Katy Abel
MA Department of Higher Education

For Immediate Release
September 25, 2019

Baker-Polito Administration Delivers $1.15 Million to Drive Campus Innovations, Support Student Success

Competitive Grant Program Supports Greater Access, Equity in Higher Education

Boston, MA - September 25, 2019 - The Baker-Polito Administration announced today that four community colleges and two state universities have been awarded $1.15 million in competitive grants that will help the state’s public campuses support the needs and talents of an increasingly diverse student population.

The Higher Education Innovation Fund, established by the legislature, encourages state colleges and universities to compete for grants with the goal of accelerating change within the public higher education system.

This year, awards went to six of the twelve campuses that submitted proposals. The Department of Higher Education gave priority to proposals that focus on achieving greater equity among students by increasing college-going and college completion rates of students of color, low-income students and those who are the first in their families to attend college. To maximize the impact of the funds and promote collaboration within the public system, this year’s winners were chosen from among campus consortia, representing institutions that are committed to working as partners to advance student success strategies.

“The Higher Education Innovation Fund is a vital resource for state colleges and universities across Massachusetts so that they can continue to provide the best learning experiences possible for their students,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Through this funding, these schools have the resources to deliver quality education while equipped with the tools and resources necessary to put students on a pipeline to success.”

“Our administration is committed to closing the opportunity and achievement gaps for residents throughout the Commonwealth to ensure that every student has the same access to successful college and career pathways,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “We are pleased to see this important funding awarded to community colleges and state universities through the Higher Education Innovation Fund so that our public higher education system can continue to work for the learners it serves.”

“Like all industries, higher education needs to evolve in order to meet the needs of students,” said Education Secretary James Peyser. “The Innovation Fund gives campuses tools to try new ways of doing business, whether lowering textbook costs or utilizing more effective measures to help struggling students succeed.”

“This year’s grant recipients are leaders who will drive our work to erase opportunity gaps in higher education,” said Carlos E. Santiago, Commissioner of Higher Education. “With enrollment declines hitting the northeastern states, we must work harder and smarter to increase the number of students who graduate and enter the workforce. Our Innovation Fund supports vital efforts to help us reach our goals and will help all our campuses pursue diversity and inclusion."

The following colleges and universities will receive Higher Education Innovation Fund grants in fiscal year 2020:

Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC) - $200,000:  Bunker Hill will partner with the University of Massachusetts Boston (UMB) to expand ground-breaking work through its Center for Equity and Cultural Wealth to support student diversity at both Boston campuses. Faculty from BHCC and UMB will form a joint advising and coaching team and utilize racial/cultural/gender affinity groups as a strategy to support students as they transition from Bunker Hill to UMass. They will also work together to align career-readiness outcomes for students, and develop data-sharing protocols to analyze efforts to close achievement and opportunity gaps.

MassBay Community College (MBCC) - $210,351:  MassBay will partner with Framingham State University and two Framingham high schools to increase the number of underrepresented (Black, Latinx, and female) students pursuing degrees in computer science. During the spring 2020 semester, high school students will enroll in early college courses and will receive academic and career coaching.

North Shore Community College (NSCC) - $239,900:   North Shore will lead all 15 Massachusetts community colleges in an effort to promote and increase student access to credit for prior learning. Students will be eligible to receive college credit for prior work or military experience and industry-based credentials, thus saving time and money on degree completion.

Northern Essex Community College (NECC) - $250,000:   Northern Essex will work with ten community colleges (Berkshire, Bunker Hill, Bristol, Cape Cod, Greenfield, Holyoke, Middlesex, Mount Wachusett, North Shore and Roxbury) to develop competency-based pathways leading to new associate degrees in early childhood education. Competency-based education (CBE) allows students to advance in their studies once they have demonstrated mastery of a subject, which can aid students with a variety of learning styles and abilities while also cut the time needed to earn a degree.

Salem State University (SSU) - $150,000:  Salem State will lead three state universities (Bridgewater, Framingham, Worcester) and Springfield Tech Community College in a consortium program, 100 Males to College, to provide targeted supports to Black and Latino male high school students. The grant will allow the program to build on its past successes, which include a very high college-going rate for participants (over 90% in Springfield).

Worcester State University (WSU) – $100,000:  Worcester State will build an Equity and Engagement Consortium of faculty leaders and administrators to promote community-engaged scholarship and build greater diversity among state university faculty.

The Higher Education Innovation Fund (previously called the Performance Incentive Fund) was created in 2012 to encourage the state’s higher education institutions to explore new ways to improve student success and college affordability. Since its inception the fund has awarded $25 million in grants. Further details on funding history and program highlights can be found here. 


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