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Press Release  Healey-Driscoll Administration Awards $1.3 Million to Advance Equity in Higher Education

Projects include increasing Latino student enrollment, enhancing professional development opportunities, and promoting internships
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  • Executive Office of Education
  • Department of Higher Education

Media Contact   for Healey-Driscoll Administration Awards $1.3 Million to Advance Equity in Higher Education

Nicole Giambusso, Communications Director

Boston — The Healey-Driscoll Administration announced today that they are awarding more than $1.3 million in Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) grants to projects that are collaborations between all 15 Massachusetts community colleges, state universities, and private institutions of higher education to advance racial equity. Projects include developing a new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) certificate program, advancing best practices for student success and retention of underserved student populations, continuing the work of the Racial Equity and Justice Institute, and creating a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) conference.
“In Massachusetts, we’re proud to have significantly expanded access to higher education, including historic increases in financial aid, but work remains to ensure that students of all backgrounds have the resources and support they need to start and succeed in their higher education journey,” said Governor Maura Healey. “This investment reflects our commitment to enhancing educational opportunities and experiences for all students, particularly for our Black and Hispanic students.”
“These projects demonstrate how committed our public campuses are to collaborating on addressing issues of racial equity in higher education,” said Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll. “Massachusetts cannot truly be a leader in higher education until we are serving all students equitably.”
The Higher Education Innovation Fund grant program invests in helping colleges and universities reach their DEI goals. This program rewards cross-system collaboration, innovative thinking, and evidence-based practices at the campus and system levels.
“I often say that change is a process, not an event, and our Massachusetts colleges and universities are working hard to drive the process of change,” said Secretary of Education Dr. Patrick Tutwiler. “We know there are racial disparities in college attainment, and these grants are part of larger efforts to create a public higher education system that serves all students equitably.”
“Building a more equitable landscape in higher education hinges on cultivating a culture of collaboration, and these systemwide and regional consortia demonstrate how our Commonwealth’s leaders are committed to working together to improve outcomes for students of color,” said Commissioner of Higher Education Noe Ortega. “The work of these campuses is crucial to Massachusetts’ efforts to ensure that all students with the talent and drive to complete a higher education have the same opportunity to succeed in doing so.”
"These Higher Education Innovation Fund grants will strengthen the ability of Commonwealth state universities and community colleges to be powerful equity engines," said Senator Jo Comerford (D-Northampton), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Higher Education. "I am grateful to the Healey-Driscoll Administration for its continued focus on racial equity throughout the higher education system."
“I am grateful for the Healey-Driscoll Administration’s latest investment in the Higher Education Innovation Fund,” said Representative Dave Rogers (D-Cambridge), House Chair of the Joint Committee on Higher Education. “The grants awarded will be critical in supporting the higher education system’s increasingly diverse student population. Importantly, this support will enhance equity and innovation for the benefit of the entire Commonwealth.”
“I am delighted by the additional support provided through the HEIF grant program by the Healey-Driscoll Administration. This funding allows state universities, and other public institutions, to deeply explore important issues in higher education such as racial equity, leadership and how to best welcome and support the growing Massachusetts Latino/a/e/x population,” said John D. Keenan, president of Salem State University and chair of the State University Council of Presidents.
“We are grateful to the Healey-Driscoll Administration for awarding these HEIF grants,” said Jim Vander Hooven, president of Mount Wachusett Community College and the chair of the Community College Council of Presidents. “Diversity, equity, and inclusion is at the core of our mission to offer open, accessible higher education for all. These grants will allow us to continue the incredible work that our institutions are already doing to ensure that we are equipped to support our diverse student body and that all of our students have the tools they need to thrive.”
The projects are listed below, highlighting the institution serving as the grant lead, along with its partners on the initiative.
Bridgewater State University: $250,000
Partners: Berkshire Community College, Bridgewater State University, Cape Cod Community College, Fitchburg State University, Framingham State University, Greenfield Community College, Holyoke Community College, MassBay Community College, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Massasoit Community College, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, Middlesex Community College, Mt. Wachusett Community College, North Shore Community College, Northern Essex Community College, Salem State University, Westfield State University, Worcester State University.  
The project, entitled the "Racial Equity and Justice Institute (REJI)," is intended to ensure racial equity tenets and practices are infused into all 18 Massachusetts partner institutions. The project proposes to 1) identify equity-minded key performance indicators (KPIs) that facilitate equitable student success, 2) develop assessment tools to gauge the developmental level of institutional functional units in the key performance, 3) curate developmentally specific materials and learning activities offered through a learning management system (LMS) aiding campuses in deepening their competencies in equity-minded student success-oriented activities in the focus areas of this project and, 4) provide analytics necessary to measure progress of each campus as they utilize the materials housed in the LMS. The highly regarded reputation of this project for transforming equity practices on campus has attracted interest beyond Massachusetts with 23 out-of-state institutions of higher education as additional members.
Springfield Technical Community College: $250,000
Partners: Berkshire Community College, Greenfield Community College, Holyoke Community College, Springfield Technical Community College, Springfield College, and Westfield State University.
Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) will initiate a second year of training, entitled “The Equity Leaders & Guides (EL&G) 2.0 Consortium Project.” This project builds upon the original 22-23 project, with the new objective to scale the EL&G framework to a regional hub model. The Communities of Practice formed from this consortium will discuss promising and best practices for student success and retention of under-served student populations in the Western Massachusetts region.
Salem State University: $247,165
Partners: Bunker Hill Community College, Holyoke Community College, MassBay Community College
The consortium partners will use the funding to intentionally welcome and enroll Latino students and prepare to better serve them. Activities will include the creation of a consortium planning committee, the delivery of campus specific professional development, development and delivery of high-impact practices, creation of student leadership summit for Latino and students of color, convening of a Hispanic Serving Institution conference and planning committee, and post-conference implementation.
Holyoke Community College: $230,340
Partners: Partners: All 15 Massachusetts community colleges
This project continues and builds upon the Massachusetts Community Colleges Equity Consortium (MCCEC) of all 15 community colleges. The MCCEC was created for the purpose of learning, sharing, and adopting equity and antiracist resources, policies, and practices. Planned activities for this grant funding include building upon the work of the HEIF 2023 Equity Ambassadors and the Faculty Fellows by establishing a sustainable statewide program for staff and faculty professional development. MCCEC’s purpose is to facilitate staff and faculty engagement with students in a way that recognizes and centers the cultural wealth students bring to their institutions.
Middlesex Community College: $168,813
Partners: Holyoke Community College and Northern Essex Community College
This project will provide a Community Leadership Credit Certificate (CLCC) to empower students to assume active leadership roles in their communities. An important component of this certificate program is internship placements, where students will learn communication, writing, organizing, leadership, and self-advocacy skills and, as a diverse group, will amplify the voices of community members who are traditionally underrepresented and marginalized in the decision-making processes.
North Shore Community College: $139,828
Partners: All 15 Community Colleges
This project, the Massachusetts Community College Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) Consortium, builds on the Consortium’s progress by continuing to develop PLA options for a diverse student body. PLAs allow college credit to be earned for prior learning and work experience. Activities include aligning course equivalencies for transfer partnerships, enhancing marketing to Latino and Hispanic students, enhancing the PLA website for state practices, developing PLA opportunities for active military and service members and veterans, and supporting the Consortium.
Quinsigamond Community College: $51,968
Partners: Anna Maria College, Middlesex Community College, Worcester State University and Worcester Polytechnic Institute
This project will develop a new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) certificate program as a critical role in creating inclusive campus environments. The objective of this non-credit certificate program is to further higher education faculty and staff appreciation of the diverse backgrounds, histories, and experiences students bring with them to better support their needs. The certificate program will engage participants in advanced DEI thematic work led by trained instructors and will be particularly important to Quinsigamond Community College as it prepares to apply for recognition as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) within the next several years.


Media Contact   for Healey-Driscoll Administration Awards $1.3 Million to Advance Equity in Higher Education

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