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California Awards for Innovation in Higher EducationThirteen California community colleges and districts will split a $25 million award from the state of California for their individual efforts to increase student completion rates and make college more affordable.

The Awards for Innovation in Higher Education recognize the most promising developments by colleges, districts and their partners to achieve the state’s identified priorities of reducing the time it takes students to complete degrees and credentials, and reducing the total cost of attendance for students.

Funding for the awards is included in California’s 2016-17 budget. The winners, which were announced on April 3, are:

$2 Million Awards

  • Cuesta College – A “degree accelerator” program to earn a transfer degree in one year

  • Evergreen Valley College – Online course delivery leveraging open educational resources

  • Los Angeles Trade-Technical College – Pathways to Academic Career and Transfer Success Program providing customized student support to reduce time to completion

  • Los Rios Community College District – Investment in degree planning software to map schedule from community college enrollment through completion of a four-year degree

  • Palomar Community College District – Degree planning combined with “intentionally scheduled learning communities” to accelerate students toward completion or transfer

  • Riverside Community College District – Foster Youth Support Network in partnership with regional school districts and community organizations

  • Santa Monica College – Further developing SMC’s existing educational planning tool, MyEdPlan 2.0, into a comprehensive student success framework, with technical assistance from Arizona State University

  • Shasta College – Innovative degree programs including Accelerated College Education and Bachelor’s through Online Local Degrees

  • Sierra College – Re-Engineering for Student Success pathways program in partnership with high schools, area colleges and universities, and the business community

  • South Orange County Community College District – Veteran Credit Articulation Track in partnership with Saddleback College and several California State Universities to provide prior-learning credits and degree/career planning assistance to veterans

  • West Hills Community College District – A web-enabled prior-learning assessment infrastructure

$1 Million Awards

  • Laney College – An online learning program designed to ensure student equity in technology and biotechnology disciplines

  • Los Angeles Valley College – LA Reverse Transfer Pilot designed to award associate degrees to prior transfer students who have completed degree requirements (in partnership with Los Angeles Mission College, Los Angeles Pierce College, CSU Northridge and other entities)

  • West Hills Community College District – An alliance between business and education to train software developers for local jobs

“I extend my congratulations to all of the winning districts and colleges for earning this prestigious and well-deserved award,” said California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley. “Boosting completion rates and reducing college costs are among the highest priorities for all three higher education systems in California. The schools recognized today are leading the way when it comes to making these twin goals a reality for this state.”

About The Awards

The awards committee gave preference to innovations that improve outcomes for historically underrepresented student groups – such as low-income students, first-generation college students, students from underrepresented minority groups, current or former foster youth, students with disabilities, and veterans – and that use technology in ways that are not common in higher education.

The committee was composed of the California Director of Finance, four members selected by the governor, an appointee of the Senate Committee on Rules, and an appointee of the Speaker of the state Assembly.

Individual applications submitted can be viewed at

Crista Souza is the TechEDge News Editor