USA Funds awards nearly $2.3 million to promote minority student success

INDIANAPOLIS, July 26, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- USA Funds® has awarded grants totaling nearly $2.3 million for the development and application of data tools and institutional practices that enhance the college completion rates and career readiness of first-generation, low-income and minority students. The three-year MSI Measuring College Value initiative is designed to support two-year and four-year minority-serving colleges and universities in measuring the value of their programs, improving student outcomes, and developing innovative approaches that inform the broader postsecondary education community of ways to increase program completion and advance the career readiness of their students.

USA Funds has awarded grants to the following seven colleges and universities, through a competitive process, which included a review of their proposals by outside evaluators:

  • Harris-Stowe State University — St. Louis. The university will involve students more directly in the assessment of their academic and personal progress toward degree attainment and gainful employment.
  • Martin University — Indianapolis. The university will enhance and expand its Liberal Arts Plus model, to promote a hybrid blend of skills acquired in vocational programs, focused workforce preparation and a well-rounded liberal arts education.
  • Miami Dade College. The college will develop and integrate four user-friendly data-based tools to promote student success throughout students' academic life cycles and to ensure the curriculum is aligned with employer needs.
  • St. Thomas University — Miami Gardens, Fla. The university plans to provide a cohort of entering students with four years of career-oriented education and training, an individualized plan to foster college completion and career readiness, and the support of a professional coach and mentor.
  • Salish Kootenai College — Pablo, Mont. The college will develop data tools aligned with the American Indian perspective, to assess college readiness, academic progress and workforce outcomes.
  • Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. The university will enhance its existing connections with employers with tools that monitor alumni performance and satisfaction in the workplace.
  • Wiley College — Marshall, Texas. The college will integrate data to track and intervene strategically to promote early college success, persistence, completion and meaningful employment outcomes of graduates.

"As college completion rates and employment outcomes for black, Hispanic and Native American students continue to lag, these colleges are well-positioned to improve these results, applying data-informed solutions to enhance the value they deliver to students," said Lorenzo L. Esters, USA Funds vice president, philanthropy. "If our nation is to continue to prosper, all segments of our population must be equipped with the skills to participate fully in the workforce and in the communities in which they live."

As part of the initiative, each school will benefit from a designated "data coach," who will assist the institution in the creation of user-friendly, customized data tools. Each institution also will designate an "innovation group," to include its chief academic affairs officer, an institutional research staff member, a faculty representative, and one employer-partner. These innovation groups will participate in an annual meeting to share best practices and foster collaboration between leadership and faculty among the seven participating colleges and universities.

"Throughout its history, USA Funds has worked to enhance higher education opportunities and success for students of color, lower-income students, and those who were the first in their family to attend college," said William D. Hansen, USA Funds president and CEO. "Building on that legacy, these grants will promote a surer path toward a college degree and a smoother transition to successful careers and fulfilling lives for minority students."

USA Funds is a nonprofit corporation that supports Completion With a Purpose®, building a more purposeful path for America's students to and through college and on to rewarding careers and successful lives. USA Funds pursues its nonprofit mission through philanthropic activities and partnerships, policy research, and programs and services that enhance preparation for, access to and success in higher education. Learn more at

CONTACT: Robert P. Murray Vice President Corporate and Marketing Communications (317) 806-1283Source:USAFunds