Gates Grants to Boost Community College Education

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The Bill & Melinda Foundation has awarded $12.9 million through four grants to enhance and create advanced technological opportunities for community colleges.

“We are targeting the best new ideas that hold the greatest promise for improving the odds for low-income young adult learners,” Hilary Pennington, the foundation’s director of Education, Postsecondary Success and Special Initiatives, said in a prepared statement.

The foundation said the grants will be used to create and improve virtual learning environments that “accelerate students’ academic progression,” use virtual communication to bring together the best professors to establish national certification for teachers of remedial education and create virtual learning labs that are free as open educational resources (OER).

The grants are:

  • Global Skills for College Completion – $3.6 million to create math and writing skills instruction through Web 2.0 and social media that will consistently result in increased student pass rates. The effort will be driven by an online community of 26 basic skills faculty on 13 campuses in 16 states.
  • The Monterey Institute for Technology and Education – $5 million to produce materials for mathematics courses to be used as OER.
  • The Carnegie Mellon University’s Community College Open Learning Initiative – $2.5 million for the collaborative development, use and evaluation of Web-based OER’s for “gatekeeper” courses.
  • The National Center for Academic Transformation – $1.8 million to engage community colleges in redesigning developmental math programs “based on proven methods of integrating technology and learner-centered pedagogy.”