Department of Education Awards $75 Million in “First in the World” Grants to 24 Colleges and Universities

Department Awards $75 Million in “First in the World” Grants to 24 Colleges and Universities

Grants will support innovative strategies at colleges and universities that make higher education more accessible and help guide students toward completion

To drive innovations in higher education that increase college completion, value and affordability, the Education Department today awarded $75 million to 24 colleges and universities under the new “First in the World” (FITW) grant program.

Through FITW, the Obama Administration will support postsecondary institutions’ efforts to develop and evaluate new approaches that can expand college access and improve student learning while reducing costs.  In May, the Department announced this year’s grant competition   as part of President Obama’s ambitious agenda to increase postsecondary access and completion.

“The First in the World grant competition is a key part of President Obama’s agenda to foster innovative ideas that help keep college affordable, increase quality and improve educational outcomes for our students,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “The Department is proud to support the wide range of innovation at colleges and universities across the nation that can dramatically enhance student outcomes.”

Nearly 500 applications were submitted for this FITW grant competition.  The 24 colleges and universities selected for this initial year of awards represent 17 states, 19 public, private, and nonprofit 4-year institutions and five public and private two-year institutions.  Six of the 24 winning applications—including an HBCU—are from minority serving institutions (MSIs), which will receive about $20 million in funding.  Many of the grantees have additional organizational partners, such as other postsecondary institutions, non-profits, and businesses.

All projects will address at least one of these priorities: increasing college access and completion, increasing community college transfer rates, increasing STEM enrollment and completion, and reducing time to completion.   They include an array of innovations, such as: developing new project-based majors that allow for self-pacing and acceleration; developing an online experience for adult students that incorporates virtual learning communities and wraparound coaching; expanding access to digital content for students with disabilities, and implementing a game-based tool that gives high school students an understanding of the college search and financing process for use in mentoring programs.  As part of the evidence-based program, grantees are required to have a strong evaluation plan to measure the effectiveness of their innovations in helping students succeed. All grants are for a four-year duration.

Examples of funded projects are:

  • Hampton University in Virginia, an HBCU, will use its $3.5 million grant to redesign many of its courses to entail more project-based learning and technology tools, benefitting more than 1000 students over its 4-year duration.
  • Purdue University in Indiana, a public 4-year institution in Indiana, will work with its partners in the University Innovation Alliance to use its $2.3 million grant to support  STEM undergraduates, particularly women and underrepresented groups, by redesigning large-lecture courses to more fully engage students through active learning interventions.  Nearly 10,000 students will benefit over the course of the 4-year grant.
  • LaGuardia Community College in New York will use its $2.9 million grant to strengthen its curriculum by developing an integrated set of tools to increase student engagement and success, including the use of ePortfolios, learning analytics, and outcomes assessments. The changes will support thousands of high-risk students as they move from LaGuaradia’s non-credit program to academic enrollment as well as enrolled students moving toward graduation.

As the projects are further developed, the Department will convene for information sharing and the exchange of best practices to broaden the impact of their innovations on a wider student population.

For the Education FY2015 budget, Secretary Duncan has requested $100 million to expand support for the First in the World fund.  The request also asks for $75 million for College Success Grants for Minority-Serving Institutions, which would make competitive awards to minority-serving institutions designated under Title III and Title V of the Higher Education Act.

2014 First In The World Grantees (FITW)


Jacksonville State University, Jacksonville—– $3,175,302

Alicia Simmons,,  (256) 782-8145


Arizona State University, Tempe —–$3,999,955

Jeanne Wilcox,, (480) 965-0158


University of Southern California, Los Angeles —–$3,203,257

William Tierney, (213) 740-7218


Georgia Tech, Atlanta —–$3,800,000

Christopher Lee,, (404) 894-8000

Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw —–$3,209,405

Jennifer Wade-Berg,, (707) 423-6630

Central Georgia Technical College, Warner Robins —–$3,215,009

Nimisha Raval,, (478) 757-2588


Indiana State University, Terre Haute —–$1,627,322

Joshua Powers,, ((812) 237-8378

Purdue University, West Lafayette —–$2,373,003

Chantal Levesque-Bristol,, (765) 496-6424


Gateway Technical and Community College, Florence —–$3,327,881

Amber Decker,, (859) 442-1147


Bay Path University, Longmeadow —–$3,548,322

David Demers,, (413) 565-1315

Northeastern University, Boston—–$3,920,926

Kevin Bell,, (617) 373-6603


Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo —–$3,217,511

Andrea Beach,, (269) 387-1725


University of Minnesota, Minneapolis—–$2,828,912

Geoffrey Maruyama,, (612) 625-5861


Delta State University, Cleveland —–$1,660,957

Christy Riddle,, (662)846-4336

North Carolina

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill—–$3,030,323

Abigail Panter,, (919) 962,4012

New Hampshire

Southern New Hampshire University, Manchester —–$3,953,360

Cathrael Kazin,, (603) 314-1420

New York

Research Foundation for SUNY/Oswego, Albany—–$2,885,126

Lorrie Clemo,; (315) 312-2290

LaGuardia Community College, Long Island City —–$2,908,031

Bret Eynon,, (718) 482-5405

The College of New Rochelle—–$3,998,781

Ana Fontoura,, (914) 654-5456


Bryn Mawr College—–$1,653,186

Elizabeth McCormack, (610) 526-5356

South Dakota

South Dakota State University, Brookings —– $3,599,996

Marysz Rames,, (605) 688-4493


Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi —–$3,301,524

Patricia Spaniol-Mathews,

Lee College District, Baytown —–$2,690,954

Victoria Marron,, (281) 425-6501


Hampton University, Hampton—–$3,500,0000

Ira Walker,, (757) 727-5397

Invitation for ACA Conference Call with Secretary Arne Duncan (this Wednesday)

Please join us for a conference call with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to discuss the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the second year of open enrollment (November 15, 2014 – February 15, 2015). Secretary Duncan will be joined by Dr. Nadine Gracia, Director of the Office of Minority Health, and Catherine Oakar, Director of Public Health Policy in the Office of Health Reform at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Wednesday, October 1st at 2:00pm -3:00pm

For conference call information please click here:

For inquires please email



NIST Hosts “Innovations in STEM: National Priorities and NIST” Symposium with HBCUs

This two-day Invitational Forum is designed to acquaint Administrators, Faculty and Students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other Minority Serving Institutions with the research and technology needs in the aforementioned areas of national need and the research, measurement service and grants programs that NIST maintains to address them.

The Symposium will open to three individuals from your institution. It will be designed around a series of plenary lectures that describe NIST, its mission and technical programs and how they address several areas of national priority and technical sessions that consist of lectures by NIST Scientists and Invited Guests in several of the national priority areas

Learn More Here:




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First Lady Michelle Obama will spend Monday in Atlanta

According to travel guidance provided by the White House, Obama’s day begins with an event with Education Secretary Arne Duncan at Booker T. Washington High School — where Martin Luther King Jr. attended before leaving early for Morehouse College. Obama will tour a college fair and then give a speech in the school gymnasium that promotes her “Reach Higher” initiative, pushing students to complete post-secondary education.

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CDC Names Morehouse Alumnus as Division Director

Eugene McCray ’72, MD, is the new Director of The National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention – NCHHSTP’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention.

In this capacity, he will lead the Division’s work to promote health and quality of life by preventing HIV infection and reducing HIV-related illness and death in the United States and will oversee CDC’s work in support of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS). Dr. McCray brings to DHAP many years of domestic and global experience in HIV and TB prevention and decades of service improving the health of underserved communities both in the United States and globally. Dr. McCray has directed and developed epidemiological, programmatic, and research activities, as well as facilitated collaboration across CDC, with other US government agencies, multilateral and international agencies, and Ministries of Health.

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2014 NASA EONS Solicitation New Appendix

2014 NASA EONS Solicitation New Appendix

Audience:  Minority Universities
Proposal Deadline: November 12, 2014

2014 NASA EONS Solicitation New Appendix

NASA’s Office of Education is accepting new proposals under the Education Opportunities in NASA STEM (EONS) 2014 NASA Research Announcement for the MUREP Institutional Research Opportunity (MIRO) appendix. This effort was previously titled as the NASA University Research Centers Project and has now been consolidated into the MUREP Program within the NASA Office of Education. Through the EONS omnibus solicitation, the opportunity MIRO has been released. Overall, MIRO awards aim to promote Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) literacy and to enhance and sustain the capability of minority serving institutions to perform NASA-related research and education, which directly supports NASA’s four Mission Directorates – Aeronautics Research, Human Exploration and Space Operations, Science, and Space Technology. Proposals are due November 12, 2014.

For more information regarding the MIRO Solicitation, please visit the NASA EONS page on NSPIRES .