On-demand remote learning pathways, enhanced student supports, waived text book fees, and culturally responsive curriculum are just some of the benefits students will see as a result of a $1.3 million grant recently awarded to Peninsula College by the US Department of Education, Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (FIPSE).
COVID-related budget cuts and reduction in personnel fueled Peninsula College’s application for the Institutional Resilience and Expanded Postsecondary Opportunity Grants Program (IREPO). The grant is part of an additional $3.2 billion in higher education relief funds issued by the U.S Education Department as part of the Higher Ed Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF) program. HEERF funding falls under the government’s CARES Act, which was created in response to the pandemic.
“We are thrilled to receive IREPO funding for a transformational project so closely aligned with the college’s five-year strategic plan,” said Chief Strategy Officer, June Whitaker. “The IREPO grant will enable the college to expand asynchronous, on-demand learning pathways in a high-support format. It will also collectively save students over one million dollars in textbook and materials fees. And it will strengthen the college’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, including developing a new Indigenous Studies pathway.”
The IREPO grant provides financial support for institutions of higher education with greatest unmet needs to develop more resilient instructional delivery models, such as distance learning, to continue educating students who cannot or choose not to attend classroom-based instruction due to the coronavirus.
The Peninsula College Z-HOPs Project (Zero-textbook fee, High-support Online Pathway), which was outlined in the college’s application, was designed to increase affordability, access, and success in online learning among rural and underrepresented students, particularly targeting Running Start and working adult students.
The project seeks to expand on-demand and other distance learning opportunities that are inquiry-based and culturally responsive, offering embedded support and no textbook fees. Program pathways that are included are the Associate of Arts pathway, Math pathway, Running Start (statewide) and Indigenous Studies Program (state and national).
Z-HOPs will also aim to improve technology resources and support services, offering a College 101 success course, free on-demand learning success “quick-start” courses, and “To-Go” tech kits. In addition, funds will allow for a re-design of enrollment, registration, placement and advising processes through access/equity lens, and expand 1:1 student support through remote drop-in Zoom sessions.
Finally, the Project will ensure grant activities are culturally responsive and integrated with college-wide equity and inclusion goals.
• Staff and other resources provided by the grant will include:
• Full-time Faculty Curriculum Coordinator
• Full-time Faculty Indigenous Studies Program Coordinator
• Full-time Faculty Equity and Inclusion Coordinator
• Full-time Student Success Manager
• Full-time Student Success Coordinator
• Faculty stipends for course development, OERs and teaching
• $75,000 in technology and equipment for students
“Serving as the IREPO Z-HOPs Project Director is such an exciting way to begin my tenure as Interim Dean of Arts and Sciences,” said Cheryl Crane. “I look forward to working with faculty and the grant-funded project staff to expand culturally responsive online learning and support opportunities for Peninsula College students.”