Title III grants led to ‘significant changes’ in the MCC student experience

Melissa Renfrow (left) and Jason Pallett (in blue, seated) speak at the final Title III (FOCUS) Advisory Board meeting.

Metropolitan Community College’s five-year Title III federal grants — known at MCC as the FOCUS grants — have now officially concluded. The three grants from the U.S. Department of Education, awarded in October 2013, totaled $12.8 million over the five years.

The grants’ overall mission was to better serve our first-year students, particularly those with high potential for success but who are not quite prepared for college-level studies.

At the final meeting of MCC’s Title III Advisory Board on Sept. 28, faculty members Melissa Renfrow and Jason Pallett shared grant data and expenditure highlights with the chancellor, campus presidents, college deans and directors.

The government grant program is called Title III Part A, Strengthening Institutions. MCC’s name, FOCUS, stands for Fundamentals for Outcomes, Completion, Understanding and Success.

Grant funding was used to facilitate a redesign of developmental education and gateway coursework, specifically focusing on pathways, as well as a redesign of advising, case management and students’ first-year experience.  Professional development and technology upgrades supported these redesigns.

Twenty-three MCC employees, both faculty and staff, became FOCUS staff members during the life of the grants, and about 250 full- and part-time faculty were paid stipends to do course redesign work.

Thanks to the leadership of the FOCUS faculty and staff, “MCC has made significant changes in the student experience, through our redesigned student advising processes, use of multi-measures for placement, revised developmental education sequences, additional approaches for learning support, and collaborative learning spaces,” said Kathrine Swanson, vice chancellor for student success and engagement.

“These are all important components for creating an environment to support student completion.”

Chancellor Kimberly Beatty and Vice Chancellor Kathrine Swanson (from left) with Christine Howell, Kim Poindexter, Tammie May, Melissa Renfrow, Jason Pallett and Bill Morgan IV
Melissa Giese (from left), Tyjaun Lee, Karen Moore, Keith Stifler, Courtney Yount-McGinnis, Ashley Rogers, Chancellor Kimberly Beatty, Kathrine Swanson, Kim Poindexter, Christine Howell, Tammie May, Melissa Renfrow, Utpal Goswami, Jason Pallett, David Oehler, Susan Rufledt, Bill Morgan IV, Victor Garcia, Michael Banks, Jackie Gill, Kim Sides-Steiger, John Chawana, Gary Schieber

Related, from October 2016: A FOCUS on helping MCC’s first-year students succeed