Shaping Equitable and Sustainable College Promise Programs – Aug 9

Posted by Kresge Foundation on July 13, 2021

Kresge Foundation Requests Concept Papers for CoPro2.0: Shaping Equitable and Sustainable College Promise Programs

The Kresge Foundation has issued a request for concept papers for the CoPro2.0: Shaping Equitable and Sustainable College Promise Programs

According to the foundation, “College Promise,” or “free college programs,” catchall terms for a range of affordability plans, are increasingly seen as a solution to several interconnected education and economic challenges, including stratified college opportunity, burdensome student loan debt, and inadequate workforce preparation. These programs are widespread and gaining momentum across the U.S.

College Promise programs provide an opportunity to strengthen community colleges, improve equity in higher education attainment, and increase postsecondary education’s economic and social contributions to local communities. While the programs have the potential to provide students a tuition-free path to higher education, they also hold the potential to institutionalize evidence-based reforms that facilitate degree completion. Well-designed programs have the potential to catalyze cross-sectoral partnerships that, taken together, comprise a system of coordinated support. They also provide an opportunity to reimagine the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders at different levels (e.g., federal, state, and local) in delivering accessible, affordable, and high-quality postsecondary education.

The foundation is excited by this potential and intrigued by the opportunity College Promise programs have to reinforce ecosystems – networks of interconnected higher education institutions, nonprofit organizations, K-12 school districts, government agencies, and urban systems of employment, housing, food, and childcare – that play a role in students’ higher education experiences.

To that end, through this $2.6 million funding opportunity, Kresge will award up to seven grants of varying award amounts. Separately and together, funded projects are expected to show how College Promise programs at community colleges have the potential to advance equity and help dismantle systemic racism; improve postsecondary outcomes for historically marginalized populations; reinforce the capacity of community colleges to provide high-quality postsecondary education, and improve the well-being of students and local communities; and partner with other organizations to leverage resources and maximize program contributions to ensure long-term sustainability.

Concept papers are invited for projects that focus on one of three streams of work:

Program Innovations and Redesign: Projects facilitating partnerships that expand or enhance services, re-imagine eligibility criteria, and foster institutional reforms. Concept papers are invited from place-based college promise programs, community college districts, state higher education coordinating boards, systems, or commissions, and other public or nonprofit organizations (501c3 entities). It is unlikely that a single community college program would be awarded a grant, but some exceptions may apply. The per-grant maximum for this stream of funding is $300,000 total for up to two years.

Research on Financial Sustainability: Projects investigating public-private financing partnerships and exploring innovative financial models. Researchers from a range of professional settings (e.g., academic, think tank, community-based organization) are invited to apply for this stream. Applicants that actively engage community colleges as partners are of particular interest. The per-grant maximum for grants in this stream is $200,000 total for up to two years.

Strategic, Local, and State Implementation Guidance for the Biden-Harris Administration’s Tuition-Free Community College Proposal: Applicants representing intermediary networks, think tanks, and advocacy organizations, as well as College Promise researchers at all levels, are invited to apply. One- to two-year grants of up to $150,000 will be available for policy, research, and intermediary organizations to provide strategic guidance on implementation.

Questions about the program will be accepted until July 30 and concept papers are due August 9. Upon review, selected applicants will be invited to submit a full proposal by September 20, 2021.

For complete program guidelines and application instructions, see the Kresge Foundation website.

Deadline: August 9, 2021 (Concept Papers)

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