The five-year project will enhance advising, create work-based learning experiences and more.
California University of Pennsylvania has been awarded a five-year, $2.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Title III Strengthening Institutions program, which helps institutions of higher education become self-sufficient and expand their capacity to serve low-income students.
At Cal U, the “Transforming Obstacles into Opportunities” grant will be used to implement five strategic activities:
- Appreciative advising, a student-centered approach that personalizes the academic advising and course scheduling experience to meet students’ individual needs. Faculty also will use Starfish software to provide early intervention for struggling students.
- Supplemental instruction designed to enhance student success in “barrier courses” with high failure and withdrawal rates. Selected students who have successfully completed these foundational courses will play a role in helping faculty develop effective supplemental learning activities.
- Professional development to engage students in learning. Faculty certified as “instructional coaches” will help their peers master advanced skills that enhance classroom instruction and encourage students to become actively involved in learning.
- Alignment of Cal U’s Academic Success Center, which provides academic support services, with campus initiatives including financial literacy training. Graduate students in the Success Center will reinforce basic financial concepts as they work with academically at-risk students.
- Work-based learning experiences that include focused University support for students placed in high-demand STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) internships. Workplace tours will give Cal U educators a firsthand look at the skills their students need for career success.
The grant-funded activities will be available to all Cal U students, with some additional supports for students deemed academically at risk. The goal is to improve student engagement and academic success, so more students complete their studies and graduate.
The grant also will lead to additional scholarship assistance by increasing the University’s unrestricted endowment funds.
Cal U faculty and staff will serve as co-leads for each of the strategic activities. The Title III grant will support three key positions: a project manager, an academic achievement specialist and a coordinator for work-based learning experiences.
“Ultimately, this grant has the potential to change students’ lives for the better,” said University President Geraldine M. Jones.
“Our faculty and staff will use these proven approaches to advising, teaching and supporting student success to help our students stay on the path to graduation and build the rewarding futures they envision.”