2014 First in the World Grant Winner Lee College Offers Advice on a Successful Application

In 2014, Lee College in Baytown, Texas became one of only four community colleges in the nation to receive a grant through the First in the World (FITW) program, a federal effort to help develop, replicate, and disseminate innovative solutions to challenges faced by students at risk of not completing postsecondary programs. The college was awarded $2.7 million to create a Weekend College that streamlines four AA and AS degree programs to increase access and completion for underrepresented, underprepared and low-income students. As the June 30 application deadline for the 2015 FITW grants quickly approaches, the leadership at Lee College offers pointers to its peers preparing their applications.

1.Top Priority - Increasing Access and Completion for Underrepresented, Underprepared, or Low-Income Students

2. Have a Strong National Partner. Identify a partner with a history of success and a strong national reputation like Achieving the Dream. Lee College partnered with Complete College America for this initiative.

3. Demonstrate a Strong Evidence Framework.

4. Incorporate Clear Logic Model Into Proposal.

5. The Evaluation Plan and Evaluator are Key. Have a strong evaluation plan with clearly defined outcomes that are measurable.

  • The plan must meet: “What Works Clearinghouse” standards for evidence of effectiveness
  • Good evaluation questions
  • Must capture evaluation capacity
  • Clear goals and objectives on project impact.

6. Make Priorities Clear and Concise. For Lee College those were accelerating the time to graduation by offering a structured cohort based weekend college program where students are able to complete their associates degree in 2 years even if they place intosome developmental education courses. It was important for us to include other support structures to support students in their success toward graduation such as a completion coach. Below are some of the critical components to our strategy:

  • Full-Time Attendance. Students will take 12 semester credit hours (SCH) per term if they require developmental courses; if they are college-ready, they will take 15 hours per term.
  • Fast-track Developmental Education. Students will take non-course based developmental lab studies each term until their skills are raised to college-level.
  • Rapid Graduation Path. Students will be offered support services in addition to full-time attendance and fast track developmental studies in order to encourage graduation within three years.

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