Robust response to California Higher Education Innovation Awards

150 150 Ed Coghlan

California needs to produce more people with degrees and with Career Technical Educational certificates. California has a growing shortage of skilled workers for major regional industry sectors and needs to better prepare people for in-demand and/or high growth jobs in major industry sectors. It is an important problem for California to address and to solve. 

There are lots of ideas percolating on California college campuses about how to do things better for the students. Some of those ideas apparently are even going to be worth some money. 

Fifty-two California higher education institutions have submitted application for the Awards for Innovation in Higher Education. There are 57 applications submitted in all (five schools submitted more than one application) 

The Budget Act of 2014 appropriated more than $50 million in one-time resources from the General Fund for the program. A showcase that plans to highlight all the applications will be held Monday, March 9 in the Sacramento Grand Ballroom. 

The Showcase is designed to help participants in three ways:

  • develop an understanding of innovations currently underway in California’s institutions of higher learning
  • engage in strategic discussions of how these innovations are improving student outcomes
  • identify opportunity to accelerate these innovations to other campuses

The next steps will be to review the applications and determine categories and themes for the Showcase.  

The applications are from California community colleges, California State University (CSU), and University of California (UC) campuses and highlight innovations that change existing policies, practices or systems that achieve the following priorities:

  • increase the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded
  • allows students to complete bachelor’s degrees within four years after beginning higher education
  • ease our students’ ability to transfer through the education system by better recognizing learning that occurs across the state’s education segments (and elsewhere)

California Forward and several partners are working together to promote the potential for innovations within higher education to restore access to the California Dream. A showcase event is being planned by CA Fwd, California Competes, Campaign for College Opportunity, the Center for California Studies, and the Young Invincibles to raise awareness and understanding of the kinds of innovations that are being developed on campuses .

“The data and analysis are clear and compelling. If California does not close the skills gap, the income gap will get ever wider,” said CA Fwd CEO Jim Mayer. “Without innovations in how Californians are prepared for the workplace, California will not be able to sustain, let alone grow, its innovation-based regional economies.”

The actual winners will be named later this spring. A committee has been formed to select which campuses receive awards and determine the amount of funds included in each of those awards. Michael Cohen, the deputy California Finance Director, is the chair. 

Other committee members include Arnold Avalos, Sue Burr, Constance Carroll, Douglas Faigin, Dean Florez, and Monica Lozano.

For more information about the program, click here.

For a list of the schools whose applications will be considered, click here.

(photo: Tomas Castelazo/Wikimedia Commons)


Ed Coghlan

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