Missouri selected for $2 million in grants to expand innovative higher education models, Gov. Nixon says

September 22, 2014
Grants from the national nonprofit USA Funds will expand programs that accelerate degree completion, reduce college costs and prepare students for high-demand fields
Jefferson City, MO

Gov. Jay Nixon announced today that $2 million in grants from a national nonprofit will give more Missouri students the opportunity to earn a college degree and strengthen the state’s position as a national leader in higher education affordability and innovation. Citing the state’s strong leadership in this area, USA Funds has selected Missouri to receive two $1 million grants to expand the Missouri Innovation Campus initiative and provide greater access to competency-based education.
“These funds will accelerate the progress we’re making to provide more Missourians access to an affordable college degree that prepares them for the jobs of today and tomorrow,” Gov. Nixon said. “I greatly appreciate USA Funds’ recognition and support of initiatives like the Innovation Campus, a proven model for preparing students for the workforce in less time and at a lower cost.  By working collaboratively with business leaders, educators, higher education institutions and national organizations like USA Funds, we will continue to hold down tuition costs and expand opportunities for students.”
“USA Funds’ grants support Missouri’s dynamic approach to higher education and workforce development,” said William D. Hansen, USA Funds president and CEO. “Consistent with our nonprofit mission, this funding will advance two innovative, proven approaches to increasing college graduation rates, reducing the time to earn undergraduate and graduate degrees, making higher education more affordable and preparing graduates for occupations that are in high demand. We believe these programs could serve as models for other states.”
In 2012, Gov. Nixon launched the Innovation Campus initiative and announced $9 million in Innovation Campus grants to establish partnerships between local high schools, community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, and area businesses. The goal of the Innovation Campus program is to train students for career opportunities in high-demand fields while cutting the time it takes to earn a college degree and reducing student debt. Originally developed at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, Innovation Campus programs are underway in St. Joseph, Springfield, Jefferson City, St. Charles, Cape Girardeau, Rolla and Joplin.
Through a $1 million grant, USA Funds will help up to three Missouri institutions either expand an existing Innovation Campus or launch a new initiative. Applicant institutions will be encouraged to prioritize expansion into majors that prepare students for high-demand jobs.
In addition, USA Funds will award $1 million to help four-year universities implement competency-based models and align their curricula more directly with the needs of employers. Institutions offering competency-based degree programs allow students to advance based on the knowledge and skills they demonstrate, rather than the time they spend in class. This model has proven particularly effective at helping students earn a college degree at an affordable cost because they do not have to take courses on subjects they have already mastered.
Gov. Nixon has made the quality and affordability of higher education in Missouri a top priority of his administration. Over the past five years, Missouri has led the nation in holding down tuition increases at its public universities. The College Board’s 2013 Trends in College Pricing report shows that tuition and fees at Missouri’s public four-year institutions increased just 5 percent since 2008, lower than in any other state in the nation.
About USA Funds
USA Funds is a nonprofit corporation that works to build 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 www.usafunds.org.