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APLU & USU Announce New Grants to Advance 21st Century Skills Development Through University-Community Partnerships

December 15, 2021

Washington, DC – The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and Coalition of Urban Serving Universities (USU) today announced grants to the University of California, Riverside, Florida International University, San Jose State University, University of Texas at Arlington, and University of Texas at El Paso that will further their partnerships with local community organizations and businesses aimed at providing students with the skills they’ll need to successfully enter the workforce upon graduation.

“There is extraordinary and growing demand for workers with 21st Century Skills,” said Christel Perkins, Deputy Executive Director of USU and Assistant Vice President at APLU. “We’re thrilled to support these institutions as they advance pathbreaking work to pilot and scale community partnerships that strengthen the pathway between college coursework and career success.”

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, businesses, or local governments.

This set of grants, known as Collaborative Opportunity Grants, are designed to support emerging and/or innovative university-community partnerships that transform university practices, programs, policies, and culture to improve 21st Century skills teaching, learning, and transferability to the workforce. The initiatives are targeted at supporting low-income, first time in college students.

Each institution will receive $50,000 to collaborate, accelerate, and improve implementation of the efforts. The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation supports the work.

More information on the grantees and their programs is below.

University of California, Riverside
The University of California, Riverside is partnering with the Greater Riverside Hispanic Chamber (GRHCC) of Commerce to co‐create a five-week summer internship program for 50 students providing digital application design instruction, a community-oriented mentorship convening university academic mentors and entrepreneur mentors, and real-world projects helping the Riverside community. The pilot will help create a model to be adapted to become a permanent academic internship that is seamlessly integrated into students’ academic and professional journeys.

Florida International University
Florida International University is partnering with an industry partner, MITRE, to develop a curated and coordinated pathway for providing students with technical skills, interpersonal skills, and access to experiential opportunities. The university aims to use the pilot as a scalable model to provide clearer and more direct pathways to careers for students through skills training and connections to employers.

San Jose State University
San Jose State University (SJSU) is partnering with Milpitas Unified School District and San Jose City College to build a stronger pathway to computer science degrees for minoritized, low-income, and first-generation students in the region. The effort will include at a summer academy hosted at SJSU, dual enrollment courses aligned with SJSU computer science transfer requirements, comprehensive mentoring for students, and access to computer science for teachers serving in the Milpitas Unified School District and candidates for teaching in the district.

University of Texas at Arlington
The University of Texas at Arlington is partnering with Revature, a technology training company providing skills training across seven high-demand areas, to increase awareness about workforce demand for 21st Century skills among transfer students, support their career planning, and ensure more students graduate with in-demand skills that prepare them to thrive immediately after completing their degrees. The effort will include project-based learning and employment placement to help students graduate quicker with more relevant skills and close the skills gap for employers in the Dallas-Fort Worth region.

University of Texas at El Paso
The University of Texas at El Paso is partnering with El Paso Community College (EPCC) to expand access to UTEP’s new bachelor of applied arts and sciences degree while providing opportunities for students to develop 21st Century Skills that are verified through integrated coursework and certificates. The institutions will provide integrated advising to foster student engagement and increase support for student success.

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