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NECC Equity-Focused Projects Receive State Funding

Submitted by on May 28, 2024 – 2:45 pm

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.”

Northern Essex Community College is a partner in four different projects which received funding:

Racial Equity and Justice Institute (REJI)
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.

Bridgewater State University will oversee the $250,000 grant for this project with 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.  

Massachusetts Community Colleges Equity Consortium
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.

Holyoke Community College will oversee the $230,340 grant for this project with partners in all 15 community colleges.

Community Leadership Credit Certificate
This project will provide a Community Leadership Credit Certificate (CLCC) to empower students to assume active leadership roles in their communities. An important component of this certificate program is internship placements, where students will learn communication, writing, organizing, leadership, and self-advocacy skills and, as a diverse group, will amplify the voices of community members who are traditionally underrepresented and marginalized in the decision-making processes.

Middlesex Community College will oversee the $168,813 grant for this project with partners Holyoke Community College and Northern Essex Community College.

Massachusetts Community College Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) Consortium
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.

North Shore Community College will oversee the $139,828 grant for this project with partners in all 15 community colleges.

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. To learn more and see a full list of projects, visit the webpage.