By Jeremy Clopton
Whatcom Community College received $2.25 million from the Title III grant awarded by the United States Department of Education to be dispersed over a five-year period and is aimed at developing a student welcoming program as well faculty facilities, funding began Oct. 1, 2018 and ends Sept. 30, 2023.
Title III, known as the Strengthening Institutions grant, has an extremely competitive application process and this is the first time WCC has received the grant in almost 30 years.
The grant was developed based on institutional needs, and helps bring to life Whatcom’s strategic plan, which prioritizes students and their success.
One of the main determining factors for this grant is the percentage of low-income students who are enrolled at the college.
Only applications with perfect reviews are accepted with only the top several institutions receiving funding that will be dispersed through a five-year period.
The grant will help the college become self-sufficient while expanding their ability to better serve low-income students by providing funding to improve academic quality, institutional management, and fiscal stability.
The main purpose for the Title III grant is to greatly improve student outcomes. The primary areas of focus are Guided Pathway, funding teaching and learning centers for faculty and staff, and a student welcome experience.
Guided Pathway is a program funded from the grant and is aimed at helping low-income students.
“Guided Pathway will provide a pathway to success and give students a sense of belonging since the beginning of the year,” said Whatcom Director of Finances Alison Scherer.
The grant funds salaries for faculty and staff, technology, equipment, and more to make this vision a reality.
The completion of the Learning Commons in the future will open new opportunities, courtesy of the grant.
This grant provides an unprecedented opportunity to create a teaching and learning center that will provide training to faculty and staff on guided pathways advising and inclusive, active learning classrooms that include the furniture, layout, and technology to help students collaborate and engage in new and exciting ways.
Among the funding for Guided Pathway is funding for new faculty and staff facilities, which will be designed to better serve teachers and staff at Whatcom.
Many details on how and when the grants funds will be utilized are still being ironed out, but Scherer is excited about the “new opportunities” that will be arising.
Whatcom also received another grant from the DOE, as the cybersecurity program was awarded $100,000 through the Cyber Pilot grant. That grant is the first of its kind to be awarded from the DOE, and will fund upgrades to the curriculum, software, and equipment.
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