USA Funds has announced grants totaling $2.3 million to support the development and implementation of data tools and institutional practices designed to boost college completion rates for and the career readiness of first-generation, low-income, and minority students.
The grants were awarded through a competitive process to seven minority-serving colleges and universities. Each school will also benefit from a "data coach" who will assist the institution in the creation of user-friendly, customized data tools and will also designate an "innovation group" that includes its chief academic affairs officer, an institutional research staff member, a faculty representative, and an employer-partner. Grant recipients include Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis, which will use its grant to more directly involve students in the assessment of their academic and personal progress; Martin University in Indianapolis, which will promote a hybrid blend of skills acquired in vocational programs focused workforce preparation and a well-rounded liberal arts education; and Miami Dade College, which will develop and integrate user-friendly data-based tools to support students and ensure the curriculum is aligned with employers’ needs.
Other recipients include St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens, Florida, which will use its grant to provide students with an individualized plan to complete college and match them with a mentor; Salish Kootenai College in Pablo, Montana, which will use the funds to develop data tools aligned with an American Indian perspective; Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, which will enhance its connections with area employers with tools that monitor alumni performance and workplace satisfaction; and Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, which will develop tools to track data and promote early college success, persistence, completion, and meaningful employment outcomes.
"As college completion rates and employment outcomes for black, Hispanic, and Native American students continue to lag, these colleges are well-positioned to improve these results, applying data-informed solutions to enhance the value they deliver to students," said Lorenzo L. Esters, USA Funds vice president of philanthropy. "If our nation is to continue to prosper, all segments of our population must be equipped with the skills to participate fully in the workforce and in the communities in which they live."