USU's Collaborative Opportunity Grants work to advance student success, degree completion, and community transformation. Institutions awarded Collaborative Opportunity Grants undertake a variety of nascent reforms touching virtually every aspect of the student experience to establish the environment necessary for students to thrive. All Collaborative Opportunity Grants projects must align with at least one of five priority investment areas: strengthening the K‐16 pipeline; rethinking financial aid; engaging faculty; partnering with employers and workforce organizations; and leveraging community assets.
All projects in the Collaborative Opportunity Grant program must center on a collaboration between a public university and an external organization such as another university, community colleges, school districts or local governments.
Seeding Innovation to Deliver 21st Century Skills - (2021-Present)
These Collaborative Opportunity Grants (COGs) are designed to support emerging and/or innovative university-community partnerships that transform institutional practices, programs, policies, and culture to improve 21st Century skills delivery, acquisition, and transferability to the workforce, with a particular interest in low-income, first time in college students. Grants are funded through the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation and are organized into three cohorts: Disrupting Structures for 21st Century Skills, Prototyping a 21st Century Curriculum, and Charting 21st Century Pathway Partnerships. More information on this cohort is below.
The Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Entrepreneurship Academy is a blended learning environment where proportionally representative students and ecosystem partners learn and work together. The academy is bringing 150 first-generation and low-income students together alongside 50 community members identified by community partners, the Jackson Ward Collective and Activation Capital. This 200-person cohort is engaging in four learning modules: design thinking, digital literacy, business model canvas, and the art of the pitch. Students and community members are earning digital badges in these modules resulting in an expected 2,000 hours of 21st Century skills delivered in concert with Richmond’s innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem. The program academy, coupled with a new entrepreneurship facility, the Student Storefront, will create ongoing and sustainable mentorship, networking, and employment opportunities.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and the Birmingham Business Alliance launched a Community Data Collective, positioning UAB students to use data to develop solutions to challenges in their city. The collective will drive UAB’s approach to using project-based learning to embed data literacy across the curriculum, build relationships between faculty and private sector data scientists; enhance students’ exposure to careers in the data industry, and meet a critical community need. In the long-term, the project aims to increase the number of students of color pursuing quality jobs in data-related industries to ultimately build a data workforce that reflects the demographics of Birmingham and meets the needs of local employers.