Tech-Powered College Retention Solutions Awarded $50M in Calif.

Analytics solutions that can help keep students enrolled are in high demand.

Some of the brightest minds in higher education are using technology to help future students have a smoother college experience, and governments are pitching in to support those efforts.

Similar to the federal government’s $75 million First in the World competition, California officials built $50 million into the state’s annual budget to recognize campuses that are building innovative solutions to address the problem of college dropouts, according to a March 20 press release.

Of the 58 California higher education institutions that applied for the one-time funding, 14 applicants received awards, including campuses that used technology to expand course access. A full breakdown of which campuses received awards is available online.

California State University at Dominguez Hills used predictive analytics and student achievement data to “identify patterns of student success and failure,” providing an early-warning sign to advisers. A similar academic-intervention system was employed at Georgia State University, and was praised by President Barack Obama at a December summit at the White House, where leaders discussed strategies to increase higher education graduation rates.

To reward innovation on that front, the Education Department launched the First in the World competition. In September, a pool of $75 million in grants was distributed to 24 higher education institutions that will launch projects aimed at accomplishing at least one of the following goals: Increasing college access and completion, increasing community college transfer rates, increasing STEM enrollment and completion, and reducing time to completion, according to a Department of Education press release.

The retention innovation continues in the private sector. In February, Robin Hood — New York’s largest poverty-fighting organization — announced three finalists for its $5M College Success Challenge: Beyond 12, the Education Advisory Board and Kinvolved.

The contest is designed to reward tech solutions to improve community college retention efforts. Three prizes will be awarded between 2016 to 2018. The grand prize of $3.5 million will be awarded to the solution that can withstand the test of three years of evaluation to determine its effectiveness.

Ridofranz/Thinkstock
Mar 25 2015

Sponsors