UCC Mainstream Online

Hard work pays off with $2 million UCC grant

Susan Taylor’s US Dept of Ed grant will bring the college $2 million over 5 years.
Dennis Wahlman / Mainstream
Susan Taylor’s US Dept of Ed grant will bring the college $2 million over 5 years.

After more than 100 pages of text and approximately 50 revisions over a four year process, UCC received a $2 million grant from the US Department of Education. This grant, which was once rejected even though it received a perfect 100 percent score, is part of the Title III Strengthening Institutions Program. SIP is money that goes toward low income students to help complete college.

According to the US Department of Education’s website, www.ed.gov, an institution is only eligible for these funds if they have a high number of Pell-eligible students and low per-student expenditures.

The total grant awarded will be spread out over the next five years. This year the college will utilize $445,821 for programs to improve UCC’s persistence rates (getting students to continue from one term to the next) and graduation rates. This year’s money will also go for programs that will improve the quality of service to first-year students.

The grant application was a group effort although Susan Taylor, Director of Grants & Planned Giving, is the only employee assigned specifically to UCC’s grant development office. Taylor was the grant’s writer, and Foundation Director Dennis O’Neill speaks highly of her work. “This was an extremely competitive process, and few grant writers can do what Susan did. Where she really excelled was in understanding what was needed to earn UCC the preference points to get this grant awarded.” Taylor was assisted by the Title III grant planning committee.

Members of the committee included Ali Mageehon, director of Adult Basic Skills Development; Corrie Sommerfeld, TOP director; Dan Yoder, director of institutional research, planning, and compliance;  David Farrington, registrar; David Hutchison, library director; Jason Aase, director of arts and sciences; Lorrie Ranck, director of IT + innovation; Mandie Pritchard, director of counseling; and Terrance Bradford, director of the Student Success Center.

“This was an extremely competitive process, and few grant writers can do what Susan did.”

—Dennis O’Neill
Foundation Director

The grant process is grueling, as Taylor explains; “The US Department of Education releases a notice that we can apply for this grant. We have 30 days to complete the application according to their guidelines (about 100 pages of guidance). We write a 55-page narrative and a budget that includes every single thing that we will do in five years to strengthen the institution. In our case at UCC, that meant mainly focusing on strategies aimed at student retention.”

The SIP Title III grant was open to all colleges, universities, and institutions nation-wide. UCC was one of 39 recipients of the grant application. That’s how tough the competition was for this grant, according to Foundation Director O’Neill.

The US Department of Education grant can be used in three areas: academic progress, institutional management and fiscal stability. The college plans to use its $2 million grant award for a project UCC is calling Students at UCC Engaging in Strategies for Success or SUCCESS for short. SUCCESS will aim to improve student graduation rates, persistence and engagement. Some of the money will go to mentoring as well as to strengthening wireless network infrastructure.

Lastly, improvements of fiscal stability will be focused on recapturing student full-time equivalency through completion of goals and/or graduation and strengthening the Foundation’s capabilities to raise funds.