Department of Higher Education Announces Innovation Program Awards

COLUMBUS, Ohio (2017-06-09) — 

The Ohio Department of Higher Education has approved $5 million in funding for projects that will enhance the quality of higher education throughout the state while making it more affordable for students by stabilizing or reducing tuition rates at colleges and universities. Schools receiving the funds designed collaborative, innovative projects that support academic achievement and economic efficiencies. The funds will be awarded for projects serving students at the community college and university level.


“The projects supported by these innovation grants will directly impact students as they pursue a successful future in college and their career of choice,” said Chancellor John Carey. “The projects will explore the implementation of competency-based education, support peer-to-peer mentor programs, and help students earn an associate degree before they graduate from high school, to name just a few highlights.”

Schools receiving awards are Bowling Green State University, Columbus State Community College, Hiram College, Marion Technical College, North Central State College, Shawnee State University, and Sinclair Community College. Each of the aforementioned schools partnered with other colleges and universities to enable innovative practices to benefit students.

Details on each of the awards are listed below:

Bowling Green State University: P-16 Pathways of Promise (P3), $750,000

P-16 Pathways of Promise (P³) proposes to develop and field-test a scalable model for identifying key performance indicators of college-readiness in university data systems, disseminating these data to PK-12 partners, and building a system for continuous program improvement for institutions of higher education and local education agencies. The universities will provide local education agencies with professional development in data literacy so districts are better equipped to use the data for targeted reforms in curriculum and instruction. The P³ project proposes to expand an earlier pilot model by including the University of Toledo and expanding from 11 to 20 local education agencies by year two.  


Columbus State Community College: Competency-Based Education (CBE), $708,859

Columbus State Community College (CSCC) and Sinclair Community College (SCC) will work to advance and adopt/expand competency-based education (CBE) that will lead to improved sustainable academic and economic outcomes. Together, both institutions will share work from grading policies, financial aid, enrollment planning, and speeding learning curves of faculty and staff to converting CBE efforts in subject areas. Additionally, both institutions’ work will broaden the perspective in the conversations and provide a robust set of learning for other institutions who are interested in pursuing CBE implementation, including a course framework of CBE teaching considerations.

Hiram College: Mentorship for Student Excellence (MSE), $680,114

Hiram College and Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C East) propose to pilot the Mentorship for Student Excellence program (MSE) that will encourage baccalaureate degree completion and achieve economic efficiency through peer-to-peer mentorship of successful community college students. The goal of MSE is to determine whether peer mentorship can play a role in improving academic achievement, economic efficiency, and baccalaureate degree completion for community college students. In order to accomplish this goal, MSE will match community college students (mentees) with similar students (mentors) pursuing a bachelor’s degree at Hiram College.

Marion Technical College: Graduate Pathways to Success (GPS), $350,000

Marion Technical College and North Central State College will expand the GPS programs in their communities. The GPS program design provides students with an educational and career pathway beginning at the end of the eighth grade. These educational pathways align with in-demand careers based on Ohio Means Jobs, EMSI data, and local employer needs. Additionally, the GPS program allows students to complete an associate degree while meeting high school requirements, utilizing the College Credit Plus program, thereby earning a degree without incurring any debt.

North Central State College in partnership with The Ohio State University and Ohio Dominican University-Open Educational Resources, $1,300,000

North Central State College, in collaboration with Ohio State and Ohio Dominican universities, will develop open educational resources (OER) and other materials with 14 other community colleges in an effort to reduce the cost of textbooks for students. Faculty teams from the participating institutions will work to create and evaluate OER materials for up to 20 courses that are among the highest enrolled courses at the colleges and offered in high schools as College Credit Plus courses and three upper level mathematic courses. OSU will share its research and evaluation strategies to enhance the project and assist community college students taking courses using OER to transition into four-year institutions. ODU will engage with Ohio’s private non-profit colleges and universities to expand the project in the mathematics areas, and OhioLink will assist with project implementation, building on its open educations strategies and initiatives.


Other participating community colleges are Clark State College, Central Ohio Technical College, Columbus State Community College, Edison Community College, Hocking College, Lakeland Community College, Lorain County Community College, Marion Technical College, Northwest State Community College, Rhodes State College, Sinclair Community College, Southern State Community College, Terra State Community College, and Washington State Community College.


Shawnee State University, Innovation Grant Program, $913,027

The initiative led by Shawnee State in collaboration with Rio Grande Community College, The University of Rio Grande, and Southern State Community College focuses on reducing the amount of financial resources students exhaust on the path to completion. It does this through financial support, teaching, and inspiration. The partner institutions propose a series of interconnected programs that focus on improving science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) awareness and skills. It will also broadly address consistent deficiencies that keep a student from completing a degree in this field of study. Projects with the grant include coding/programming and STEM summer camps to engage students of all areas in these fields.


Sinclair Community College: Engaging Adults to Graduate and Lead to Efficiencies (EAGLE), $300,000

The college will develop new educational models designed to incentivize adults age 25 and older to complete an associate degree in 15 months.  The project will intentionally replicate the streamlined process; however, the program will utilize a student contract model and an innovative “Concierge” model to provide case management support from a student’s initial inquiry through degree completion. During the second year of the project, at least three community colleges interested in implementing new models to serve adults will be invited to a workshop to identify the strengths and challenges related to the adoption of the new models at their institutions. 

About the Ohio Department of Higher Education

The Ohio Department of Higher Education (formerly known as the Ohio Board of Regents) is a Cabinet-level agency for the Governor of the State of Ohio that oversees higher education for the state. The agency’s main responsibilities include authorizing and approving new degree programs, managing state-funded financial aid programs and developing and advocating policies to maximize higher education’s contributions to the state and its citizens.

Contact Information: 

Ohio Department of Higher Education Contact:
Jeff Robinson
Office: 614.752.9487