The Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) has been selected, along with 13 other colleges and universities across the nation, to receive a $1.59 million grant aimed at ensuring students successfully make it through their chosen program. Nationwide, $5.4 million of the US Department of Education's money will go to the effort.
So what exactly will the Title III grant be doing?
“The purpose of the whole project is to establish learning commons at four campuses (North, South, Allegheny, and Boyce), and it will provide facilitated learning in English and reading. And really the reason for the project in the beginning was a strategic initiative that helps to increase our completion rates of our students and to close achievement gaps,” said Nancilee Burzachechi, Vice President of Institutional Advancement and External Relations.
The program is as much about social barriers as it is about learning barriers.
“The design of them [the program] is to remove the stigma of developmental education. So you don’t know if you’re an honors student going in just brushing up on some skills, or if you’re struggling with a developmental course…it’s just a really welcoming environment.”
This is not the first time CCAC has done something like this. The Heinz Endowments recently offered a grant that allowed CCAC to create Math Cafes. They have been open for just over two weeks system-wide but administrators feel they have been a success.
“They’ve been very well received, especially by our faculty, who were extremely instrumental in both of these projects,” said Bruzachechi. “We’re just really to proud to be one of the 14 institutions that were funded for this project this year… it’s a real honor for us."