The Utah System of Higher Education (USHE) has announced awards for the StepUp READY mini-grant program (up to $75,000). This is the second year of mini-grants awarded to projects based on partnerships between local school districts and Utah higher education institutions. The purpose of the grants is to increase the number of Utah’s public high school students who graduate college-ready and enroll in a post-secondary institution through partnerships between K-12 schools and a higher education institution.
The partnerships are based on outcomes using metrics of college readiness. These metrics fall into four categories: preparation, enrollment, transition, and professional development using more than 20 measurable objectives, applicants to best fit program needs, yet ensure outcome accountability such as:
- Increase number of students who achieve ACT college-readiness benchmarks.
- Increase number of students completing concurrent English 1010 and/or Math 1030/1040/1050 with a grade of “B” or higher.
- Increase the number of students taking STEM-related courses in senior year.
- Increase parental engagement related to college preparation and attainment.
- Increase number of first-generation high school seniors who apply to one or more colleges/universities.
- Engage underrepresented students in intentional summer programming to ease transition (note: this refers to “bridge” programs, not orientation or first-year experience).
- Engage teachers and administrators in college readiness training.
A total of 17 applications were submitted for review by a committee comprised of public and higher education officials from both the urban and rural areas of the state. The following is a brief summary of each awardee/project:
Salt Lake Community College & Granite School District ($75,000)
The project aims to enhance and expand upon college outreach, preparation, and readiness activities that exist within Cyprus, Hunter, Granger and Kearns High Schools by offering FAFSA completion, College Prep Math, concurrent enrollment Math 1030/1040/1050 and parental engagement activities at SLCC’s new West Valley Center. The West Valley Center is conveniently located in the heart of the service areas of these four high schools at 3500 South and 5600 West in West Valley City. College outreach, preparation and readiness activities will be offered for students and their families in the evenings and on Saturdays when the high schools are not open.
Southern Utah University & Iron County School District ($74,977)
A partnership between Southern Utah University (SUU) and Iron County School District (ICSD) that focuses on increasing the number of students achieving ACT college-readiness in mathematics. This will be accomplished through targeted student involvement with ACT Preparation, a Summer STEM Expo, and exposure to ACT materials and questions. In addition, improving teacher effectiveness through professional development (USOE/USHE Mathematics Endorsement courses, training in NCTM Mathematics Teaching Practices, infusing ACT questions in the curriculum) will result in higher student achievement. Motivational speakers, parent involvement, and an incentive program will elevate student tenacity to better prepare for university attendance.
University of Utah & Granite School District ($75,000)
The University of Utah Office for Equity & Diversity is committed to first-generation, underrepresented students and students of color through the Diversity Scholars Program (DS), which specifically provides academic support through a cohort model. The DS Summer Bridge is aimed at doing outreach with underrepresented students from the Granite School District. Through a partnership between the DS Program and the Granite School District, this collective effort (the Diversity Scholars Summer Bridge Program) seeks to increase college-going rates and further support the Granite School District college-going culture.
Utah State University & Cache, Box Elder, & Weber School Districts ($43,001)
The Utah Alternative High Schools (AHSs) College Readiness Partnership is a collaboration between Utah State University and AHSs in Utah to increase the number of underrepresented juniors and seniors who achieve ACT college-readiness benchmarks, read more proficiently, apply for college, and complete FAFSA by participation in 6 ACT online tutorials, 6 reading/content intervention sessions, 2 college application and FAFSA events, and 1 college tour. An AHS State Leadership Team aims to improve AHS students’ college readiness by recommending effective strategies to prepare for and enroll in college, and developing an effective model for AHSs to implement for program sustainability
Utah Valley University & Provo School District ($74,968)
This StepUP READY K-16 Alliance between Utah Valley University (UVU) and Provo City School District will create and implement a culture-based leadership and mentoring partnership at Provo High School (PHS) using UVU’s Cultural Envoys Leadership Program and Multicultural Student Council. This approach toward more effective cultural validation is intended to expand the frontiers of students of color transitioning to college and will provide participants with the opportunity to recognize and validate their cultural norms and traditions existing outside of the classroom as sources of strength and motivation for college preparation, enrollment, academic achievement, secondary graduation and persistence in school.
Weber State University & Davis School District ($75,000)
WSU Bridge to College Success will reach out to underrepresented graduating seniors in area high schools who are at risk of not enrolling at Weber State University the fall following their graduation through the following components: 1) College Bridge mentors will provide assistance with completing financial aid processes and next steps to enrollment during spring of senior year and following summer, 2) intentional orientation & transition experiences to support college success, 3) residential summer bridge program where students will learn behaviors leading to academic success and social engagement, & 4) on-going mentoring and student engagement activities during their first semester at WSU.
Weber State University & Ogden School District ($22,250)
This project supports the continuation of a partnership with Weber State University and Ogden High School to provide a senior-year mathematics course for students below the ACT benchmark in mathematics. The course holds college level expectations for attendance, homework completion, and grading. It explores problematic areas in mathematics by building a conceptual understanding of the material through use of interactive activities and concrete manipulatives. This project will also extend the influence of this project to all the high schools in the area by providing area high school teachers with professional development training them in the methods used in the course.
- All grantees must enter into a grant agreement with USHE, spelling out any modifications in the application (such as expansion of programs or utilization of existing USHE programs), data sharing, and program sustainability.
- With the submission of a completed grant agreement, funds will be expended in January 2016.
- Implementation January-December 2016.
- Reports will be due to USHE in June 2016, January 2017, and April 2017.