Posted July 10, 2014

Temple awarded grant to research and develop new ways to increase access, student success

Gates Foundation-funded grant seeks to "advance transformational change in public higher education"

Ryan S. Brandenberg
Temple University has received a Transformational Planning Grant, funded by the Gates foundation, to develop new approaches for recruiting and evaluating prospective Temple students.

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities (USU) announced today that Temple University is one of only seven universities nationwide selected to participate in an innovative, one-year project that seeks to transform the way higher education is delivered.

Temple will receive $225,000 as part of the Transformational Planning Grant project—an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation—to research, develop and test new university business models that can increase access, improve student success rates and find greater cost efficiencies.

“I am delighted that Temple was one of the few universities selected to receive this unique grant,” said Temple University President Neil D. Theobald. “Temple has an unwavering commitment to leading the way in addressing the national crisis of affordability and access in higher education. This grant affirms that Temple’s bold and innovative model has the potential to serve as a national prototype.”

Temple’s Transformational Planning Grant will be used to develop new approaches for recruiting and evaluating prospective Temple students. The project will be piloted among students in Philadelphia area high schools whose potential may be overlooked by traditional measures of achievement, such as standardized testing. Temple also will analyze how these “non-cognitive” approaches—strategies that take into account factors such as a student’s grit, determination, self-assurance and self-advocacy—can be incorporated into the university’s academic policies, financial aid strategy, and advising and support services.

“The common goal of this grant and Temple’s many recent groundbreaking initiatives, from Fly in 4 to our new financial literacy programs, is to give more students the opportunity to earn a Temple degree in four years,” President Theobald said. “Our current and future students deserve nothing less.”

APLU intends to use its national network to work to scale the most promising findings and practices of Temple and the six other grantees—California State University, Fresno; Florida International University; Georgia State University; Portland State University; the University of Akron; and the University of Illinois at Chicago—to help its more than 200 public university members across the country better meet the needs of their evolving student populations.

APLU and USU conducted a rigorous application and review process for urban universities interested in participating in the Transformational Planning Grant project. The seven institutions chosen demonstrated evidence of being early adopters, measured by the degree to which they have already begun to convene stakeholders and implement system-level change. The seven sites will be supported by APLU and USU networks, which will capture and promote promising practices and broker support for the sites if they need additional resources or expertise.

“Public research universities are being asked to educate more students and effectively prepare them for the workforce and society at the same time they continue to face reduced state and local funding,” APLU President Peter McPherson said. “Temple is well-positioned to identify effective ways forward that can help transform the delivery of public higher education as we know it.”