Boston, MA (May 28, 2024) – 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.”
The projects that NSCC will be collaborating on are listed below, with the institution serving as the grant lead highlighted, along with its partners on the initiative:

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.

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.
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.

To see a complete list of projects funded and for more information, go to the Higher Education Innovation Fund. 



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