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U.S. Department of Education: Strengthening Institutions Program (CFDA# 84.031F)

Deadline: April 17, 2017

The Strengthening Institutions Program (SIP) provides grants to eligible institutions of higher education (IHEs) to help them become self-sufficient and 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. The SIP Program is critical to the U.S. Department of Education’s (USDE’s) efforts to improve college completion for students who have been traditionally underrepresented in postsecondary education. In recent years, SIP competitions have given priority to applicants proposing evidence-based interventions. This competition, which provides larger awards than are available under the 84.031A competition, maintains that recent emphasis and goes one step further, by encouraging applicants to commit to conducting rigorous evaluations of those interventions. Specifically, the priorities associated with this competition are:

  • Absolute priority: Projects that are supported by moderate evidence of effectiveness.
  • Competitive Preference Priority: Projects that provide tutoring, counseling, and student service programs designed to improve academic success, including innovative, customized, instruction courses designed to help retain students and move the students rapidly into core courses and through program completion, which may include remedial education and English language instruction.

In responding to the absolute priority, applicants are encouraged to not just identify the proposed evidence-based interventions, but also to describe how those interventions will be implemented in a way that will change institutional practices, cultures, and the overall institutional approach to improving results for students.

Funds may be used for planning, faculty development, and establishing endowment funds. Administrative management and the development and improvement of academic programs also are supported. Other projects include joint use of instructional facilities, construction and maintenance, and student service programs designed to improve academic success, including innovative, customized, instruction courses designed to help retain students and move the students rapidly into core courses and through program completion, which may include remedial education and English language instruction. Other examples of funding are available at the Department of Education website.

Note: USDE is conducting two separate competitions for SIP grants in 2017. In this competition (CFDA number 84.031F), applicants must address the absolute priority (detailed above). The separate competition under CFDA number 84.031A does not include any priorities. Applicants may apply for grants in both the 84.031A and 84.031F competitions but can only receive one grant.

Amount: A total of $3,699,000 is available to award six to seven grants, ranging from $500,000-$600,000 per year and averaging $550,000 per year. The project period is for up to five years.

Eligibility: An institution must be:

  • Accredited or pre-accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency or association that the Secretary has determined to be a reliable authority as to the quality of education or training offered.
  • Legally authorized by the state in which it is located to be a junior or community college or to provide an educational program for which it awards a bachelor’s degree.
  • Designated as an “eligible institution” by demonstrating that it has: (1) an enrollment of needy students as described in 34 CFR 607.3; and (2) low average educational and general expenditures per full-time equivalent (FTE) undergraduate student as described in 34 CFR 607.4. Institutions must have responded to the notice inviting applications for eligibility designation for FY 2017 that was due on January 9, 2017 (see: https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ope/idues/eligibility.html).

Note: An eligible Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) that is not a current grantee under the HSI Program may apply for a FY 2017 grant under all title III, part A programs for which it is eligible (including this one), as well as receive consideration for a grant under the HSI Program. However, a successful applicant may receive only one grant.

Link: https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=292144

Note: Check the USDE website for potential informational webinar dates: https://www2.ed.gov/programs/iduestitle3a/index.html.

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