Community College-University Partnerships

Exploratory Grants

Richmond, Virginia
Grants to Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and the Virginia Community College System support four-year pathways in humanities and select arts disciplines between VCU and John Tyler Community College and J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College and aim to accelerate baccalaureate degree completion and strengthen faculty collaboration between the partner institutions.

El Paso, Texas
The Humanities Collaborative, supported by grants to the University of Texas at El Paso and El Paso Community College, aims to streamline humanities transfers and collaboration between humanities faculty.

Miami, Florida
The partnership assists humanities students in completing their degrees at Miami Dade College and transferring to Florida International University, and strengthen faculty and staff collaborations between the institutions.

Baltimore, Maryland
Companion grants to The Community College of Baltimore County and Johns Hopkins University support the transfer of humanities students from two-year to four-year institutions, as well as innovative teaching practices in the humanities.

Cleveland, Ohio
A partnership between Case Western Reserve University and Cuyahoga Community College fosters an alliance in support of humanities transfer students and stronger collaboration between faculty at the university and in the community college system.

Seattle, Washington
The University of Washington developed a partnership with three two-year colleges in Seattle as part of a grant-funded program aimed at reimagining the humanities PhD.  

Los Angeles, California
UCLA’s Initiative for Excellence in Pedagogy and Innovative Classrooms (EPIC) developed new practices to reorient humanities pedagogy to 21st-century learning, with special emphases on creating inclusive classrooms, applying humanities perspectives in interdisciplinary fields, and using technology in humanities classes.

New York, New York
The Graduate Center (GC) of the City University of New York launched an initiative to equip PhD students to teach humanities courses at community colleges, to enhance collaborations in pedagogy between GC and New York City community college humanities faculty, and to expand opportunities in the humanities for New York City community college students.

San Diego, California
The San Diego Community College District and the University of California, San Diego are building a diverse pipeline by identifying strong transfer students in the humanities, providing supportive services during their transition, and ensuring that they graduate with essential skills. 

New Hampshire
The Community College System of New Hampshire and the University of New Hampshire have developed the New Hampshire Humanities Collaborative.  

San Francisco, California
Foothill-De Anza Community College District and the University of San Francisco have developed a transfer program to help underserved students earn four-year degrees in the humanities.

Ann Arbor, Michigan
These grants support the transfer of Henry Ford College students in the humanities to the University of Michigan and help strengthen collaboration between humanities faculty at both institutions.

Albuquerque, New Mexico
These partnership grants support the transfer of Central New Mexico Community College students in the humanities to the University of New Mexico to help ensure their successful completion of the BA degree.

Atlanta, Georgia
This unique partnership between Perimeter College and Georgia State University aims to engage transfer students in the humanities who are transitioning from Perimeter to the university.

The growing role of community colleges in the higher education ecosystem, which has been promoted by a range of federal and state entities, is of great interest to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Higher Learning program.  More than one-third of the nation's 16.6 million undergraduates are enrolled in community colleges; these students make up the most diverse college populations; most of them want to obtain four-year degrees; and—contrary to widespread perception—many seek a liberal or humanities education. 

Community colleges face challenges to serve these students as they strain under state legislature demands that produce mismatches between growing enrollments and shrinking resources.  Faculty, a growing percentage of whom have PhDs and are driven by a strong sense of mission, have such high teaching loads that they can rarely support their most motivated and talented students as fully as they would like.  The Foundation has been studying how it could help (1) strengthen pathways for aspiring humanities students into strong four-year colleges, (2) foster collaborations between humanities faculty in two- and four-year institutions, and (3) give university faculty and doctoral students access to the knowledge about diverse and inclusive classroom practices that is prevalent in community colleges. 

The Foundation’s support of such collaborations focus on partnerships between universities and community colleges that have strong humanities leadership and that share a commitment to successful humanities transfer. Given the enormous size of the community college sector and the wide variety of articulation agreements between two- and four-year institutions across the US, the Foundation seeks to identify areas of intervention that can gain scale and be replicated around the country, eventually without Mellon support. The Foundation also provides support for select community college transfer-related projects that fall outside the partnership model.