Daytona State College announced it was awarded a $2.1 million Title III Strengthening Institutions Program Grant from the US Department of Education. The grant will support a new project called “Learner Engagement, Navigation, and Support (LENS),” and will enable the College to increase retention and graduation rates of first-time-in-college (FTIC) students in associate degree programs. LENS is designed as a single project comprised of three strategies focused on enriching the college environment to heighten cultural inclusion and community connection among students, implementing proactive advising services that include integrated career pathway planning, and enhancing online instruction and support to increase student engagement and success.
“This is a highly competitive selection process, as only 31 colleges and universities were funded out of 590 applicants,” said Dr. Amy Locklear, Provost and Title III Project Director. “We’re confident that we will be able to improve our students’ retention and completion rates, and our philosophy is to create a supportive, inclusive and engaging environment for students, especially in the first semester. We will promote a mindset that keeps vulnerable students in school, goal-focused and motivated to complete their studies all the way through to graduation.”
The grant award is $2,135,509 (59% of the total cost) over a five-year period to implement the project, and the College has committed $1,498,610 (41% of the total cost) in additional resources to ensure the initiative is well-supported.
The grant helps eligible institutions of higher education expand their capacity to serve low-income students by providing funds to improve and strengthen the institution’s academic quality, institutional management, and fiscal stability. DSC’s goals for the grant include increasing the FTIC retention rate from 55% to 59%, and FTIC graduation rate from 22% to 31%. Other areas of the initiative include providing work-based learning experiences such as internships and apprenticeships, and addressing students’ knowledge of personal financial literacy and responsibility.
“Everyone at Daytona State College is committed to providing access to quality learning opportunities and making continuous improvements to better meet the needs of our students,” said Dr. Thomas LoBasso, President. “Earning a Title III Grant is extraordinarily difficult, and I am so proud of our faculty and staff who rose to the challenge with this project submission. And ultimately, our students will be the ones who will truly benefit from this effort.”