Community College-Research University Partnerships

Exploratory Grants


Richmond, Virginia
Grants to Virginia Commonwealth University and the Virginia Community College System will support four-year pathways in humanities and select arts disciplines between VCU and John Tyler Community College and J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College and will 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
A pair of grants will assist 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 grans will support the transfer of humanities students from The Community College of Baltimore County to Johns Hopkins University, as well as faculty collaborations on curriculum and pedagogy.

Cleveland, Ohio
A grant to Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) is supporting a humanities alliance with Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) in support of humanities student transfer and stronger collaborations between faculty at the university and in the community college system. 

Seattle, Washington
The University of Washington (UW) is developing a partnership with three two-year colleges in Seattle as part of a grant-funded program that seeks to reimagine the humanities PhD.  

Los Angeles, California
UCLA’s Initiative for Excellence in Pedagogy and Innovative Classrooms (EPIC) is developing 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 (CUNY) has launched an initiative to equip PhD students to teach humanities courses at LaGuardia Community College (LCC), to enhance collaborations in pedagogy between GC and LCC humanities faculty, and to expand opportunities in the humanities for community college students.

San Diego, California
The San Diego Community College District (SDCCD) and the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) 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 (CCSNH) and the University of New Hampshire (UNH) are developing the New Hampshire Humanities Collaborative.  

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

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s 2014 Strategic Plan calls for its program in Higher Education and Scholarship in the Humanities to foster collaborations that can respond effectively to challenges across the system of higher education.  The growing role of community colleges in that ecosystem, which has been promoted by a range of federal and state entities, is of great interest to the Foundation.  More than one-third of the nation's 17.5 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 four initial grants in support of such collaborations (in Cleveland, Seattle, Los Angeles, and New York City) 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 is seeking to identify areas of intervention that can gain scale and be replicated around the country, eventually without Mellon support.