The Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE), working in partnership with the Inter-University Council and the Ohio Association of Community Colleges, has been selected to receive a $2.1 million grant from Strong Start to Finish (SSTF) aimed at getting students on successful pathways to college completion while also addressing attainment gaps for historically underserved populations.
ODHE is one of only four entities in the country selected to receive a $2.1 million grant, which will be paid over three years. Strong Start to Finish received 47 letters of interest in the grant opportunity. ODHE’s application was chosen for its exemplary “use of evidence-based practice and commitment to achieve greater equity,” according to SSTF.
“Our overarching goals are to put all students on a path to a successful future and to ensure that our businesses have the skilled workers they need to succeed,” said ODHE Chancellor John Carey. “This grant will go a long way in pursuit of those goals while supporting students as they begin their postsecondary journey.”
As part of the application process, ODHE reached out to the presidents of 13 of Ohio’s public universities and the state’s 23 community colleges to determine their interest in participating in the grant opportunity. Schools that volunteered to participate must agree to develop institutional goals, including specific goals to reduce equity gaps; assemble a campus leadership team; outline the campus’ initiatives related to Strong Start to Finish goals; and develop goals for increasing the percentage of students completing their gateway math and English courses and entering a program of study in their first year.
Universities participating in the grant are Bowling Green State University, Central State University, Cleveland State University, Kent State University, Miami University, Ohio State University, Ohio University, Shawnee State University, University of Cincinnati, University of Toledo, Wright State University, and Youngstown State University. Participating community colleges are Belmont College, Central Ohio Technical College, Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, Clark State Community College, Columbus State Community College, Edison Community College, Lorain County Community College, Hocking College, Marion Technical College, North Central State College, Owens Community College, Rhodes State College, Rio Grande Community College, Sinclair Community College, Southern State Community College, Stark State College, Terra State Community College, and Washington State Community College.
“Public universities in Ohio are pleased to participate in this grant,” said Bruce Johnson, president of the Inter-University Council. “It will help focus our resources on improving graduation rates for at-risk students. Graduating on time is the most effective way to reduce student costs.”
“This award is a wonderful affirmation from national funders that Ohio community colleges have repeatedly shown they are up to implementing reforms at scale that will lead to more students completing college and entering the workforce,” said Jack Hershey, president and CEO of the Ohio Association of Community Colleges. “The goals of Strong Start to Finish align perfectly with the reforms Ohio community colleges have already embraced to prioritize early completion of math and English by our students.”
Currently, only 33 percent of first-time students at participating institutions complete college-level math and English in their first year. Higher education leaders in Ohio have committed to increase that number to 50 percent by 2021, including reducing equity gaps for economically disadvantaged students, students of color, rural students, and students over age 25.
Funding for SSTF has been provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates, and The Kresge Foundation.
About the Ohio Department of Higher Education
The Ohio Department of Higher Education is the state agency that coordinates higher education in Ohio. The agency is directed by its Chancellor, who is a member of the Governor of Ohio's cabinet. The Chancellor provides policy guidance to the Governor and the Ohio General Assembly and carries out state higher education policy.