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Announcing our May-September 2023 Grants and Investments

An Announcement From Lynn Alvarez, Vice President, Programs and Strategy

September 27, 2023

As part of our commitment to improving higher education for career success among underserved populations through evidence-based innovation, we are proud to announce a new series of grants and program-related investments made from May 24 to September 13, 2023. The total funding for this period is $14,582,704. Each project ties to one or more of our three strategic priorities: removing barriers to postsecondary completion; building the capacity of organizations, institutions and systems; and transforming the postsecondary ecosystem.

November will mark one year since the Foundation announced the launch of our new strategic framework. Amidst the continuation of our strategic evolution and as part of our commitment to transparency, we want to help potential grantees and investees better understand how funded projects relate to our approach. Our open letter of inquiry process allows any nonprofit organization, government entity, institution or system to apply year-round. For-profit companies or nonprofits with a dedicated revenue stream are invited to learn more about our program-related investments program, Education Innovation Ventures.

Some of our recent grants fall within one of our five initiatives and others are considered strategically responsive. As we pursue systemic change in the postsecondary ecosystem, we seek to fund evidence-based innovation with the flexibility to adapt as the higher education landscape evolves. Seeking input from experts in the field is core to our work and allows us to make data-driven funding decisions that aim to address emerging needs while informing the development of new and potential initiatives.

A selection of grants and investments are detailed below. For a full list of the Foundation’s active and inactive grants and investments, please visit ECMC Foundation’s website at


Basic Needs Initiative

National Skills Coalition (NSC) ($575,000) to further develop state-level expertise and capacity to scale and sustain effective models for technical assistance academies in 10 states to advance basic needs services for adult students in career pathways.

National Student Legal Defense Network ($664,140) to increase the number of eligible students in California and two to three other states who enroll in and use the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and to develop a model for other states to leverage federal student aid information by using information already available in federal student aid applications.

University of California, Irvine ($350,411) to better understand, address and amplify the basic needs of immigrant postsecondary students, with a focus on the specific realities undocumented students and students from mixed-status families face.

CTE Leadership Collaborative Initiative

Institute for Citizens and Scholars ($857,725) to provide journalists with both financial and knowledge-building support to dive deeper into underreported issues in higher education, with a focus on career and technical education, through adding 30 ECMC Foundation Fellows to the Higher Ed Media Fellowship and making curricular updates.

Jobs for the Future ($875,000) to strengthen companies’ policies and practices to hire and promote postsecondary CTE graduates through the Talent of Tomorrow Program, including engaging 30 ECMC Foundation Fellows through two new cohorts.

Men of Color Initiative

Brothers@ ($600,000) to train 100 student Ambassadors and replicate their Bard campus-based program model at five new campus sites to reach more male students of color across a wider geographic area and increase college persistence and graduation rates.

Improve Your Tomorrow, Inc. ($250,000) to pilot interventions focused on career navigation and internship programs for 50 men of color enrolled in colleges and universities in the Sacramento-Davis area and analyze improved academic and career outcomes.

Single Mother Student Success Initiative

California Competes ($1,500,000) to formalize and solidify the student–parent coalition, create resources for students and community college leaders, and serve as a source of information for increasing associate degree attainment rates for student parents and single mother students in California.

Strategically Responsive Grantmaking

Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) ($599,940) to demonstrate the impact and effectiveness of an institution-wide professional development masterclass program available to employees of nine regional community colleges within Los Angeles County.

Collegiate Edu-Nation ($800,000) to collaborate with workforce boards, employers and postsecondary institutions to scale apprenticeship programs in 30 new communities and increase the percentage of adult learners in rural Texas who persist and graduate with CTE-focused academic credentials.

Education Commission of the States ($290,982) to increase state leader knowledge of higher education in prison policy and practice and improve state policies and practices affecting students impacted by the justice system.

Futuro Health ($500,000) to develop and pilot new postsecondary education pathways at the certificate, associate’s, baccalaureate and master's level that provide training in the fields of mental and behavioral health.

Hispanics in Philanthropy (HIP) ($482,000) to improve service capacity at 15 grassroots Latinx-serving nonprofit organizations focused on postsecondary education to increase college persistence and completion rates.

Institute for Evidence-Based Change (IBEC) ($748,000) to expand the Caring Campus model to up to 18 new rural community colleges and create a network of more than 100 Caring Campuses to share resources, experiences, and ideas.

Ithaka Harbors, Inc. ($550,000) to identify effective partnership strategies between institutes of higher education that offer programs in prisons and community-based organizations providing re-entry supports to improve service to formerly incarcerated learners.

James B. Hunt, Jr. Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy Foundation, Inc. ($400,000) to equip institutional leaders and state policymakers with the knowledge and resources to support Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) and their students through building capacity and offering technical assistance at MSIs and HBCUs, respectively.

Let’s Get Ready ($800,000) to scale its near-peer coaching curriculum to increase engagement, persistence, and completion of 10,000 students from underserved backgrounds at 17 recently consolidated campuses of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) system.

MDRC ($750,000) to improve persistence rates for 4,500 full- and part-time first-year students through streamlining backend processes related to financial aid, admission, and registration at three higher education institutions.

National Association of System Heads (NASH) ($372,000) to certify 1,000 faculty and staff across eight colleges and universities in creating inclusive and equitable learning conditions and increase rates of persistence and completion for up to 125,000 postsecondary students annually.

Reach University ($1,000,000) to sustain, scale and evaluate its Teacher Apprenticeship Program by enrolling 819 individuals (with at least 50% identifying as people of color) from across rural Arkansas and Louisiana to ensure school districts can build a strong and diverse pipeline to meet future hiring needs.

The Urban Institute ($750,000) to ensure sustained institutional change in closing racial equity gaps in online and hybrid postsecondary CTE across four participating community colleges by scaling promising practices aimed at advancing equity and improving outcomes for students of color.

uAspire ($367,506) to measure how a scalable virtual student loan repayment curriculum functioned, including how participants’ financial well-being and capability had changed six months after completion.

Education Innovation Ventures

Gladeo Inc. ($250,000) to support individuals’ learning about career pathways and aligned educational programs through an inclusive, virtual career navigation platform.

Julius Education ($250,000) to provide online training and education programming, career navigation support and data solutions related to the green economy to create career pathways for diverse learners and jobseekers.

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