02/23/2015 by Ed Coghlan

Showcase for innovation awards in higher education hits capacity


(Photo Credit: Skip Jones Photography)

Interest is high for the upcoming first-ever California Awards for Innovation in Higher Education Showcase to be held in Sacramento on Monday March 9, with $50 million approved for awarding to the winners.

The Showcase will recognize California Community Colleges, California State University campuses and University of California campuses that have created and developed programs that help students and improve efficiencies on campus.

Fifty-seven applications from 52 different campuses have been submitted. The response has been nothing short of outstanding.

The innovations cover three main areas:

  • Supporting Students
  • Transforming Colleges
  • Collaborating Across Sectors

"The Awards are innovative in themselves, spotlighting the kind of changes need to revitalize California's long-standing commitment to access while establishing an equal commitment to completion for all students," said Jim Mayer, CEO of California Forward, which is convening the event.

At the Showcase, which will be held at the Sacramento Grand Ballroom, representatives of 33 schools will make short presentations (no more than 3 minutes) about the innovation that each has developed and submitted for consideration.

Participants at this shared learning experience can expect at least three results:

  1. To understand the innovations at play in California's institutions of higher learning from the leaders who are implementing them on the ground.
  2. To engage is discussions about how these innovations are improving student outcomes
  3. To identity opportunities to accelerate learning and action throughout the state.

"Improvement in higher education is critical to reduce the income gap and to give more Californians the skills needed to be economically successful," added Mayer.

The idea of innovation in higher education has been gaining momentum around the country. Why? Because like Mayer says, there are practical reasons.

David Duncan, a senior partner at Innosight pointed out in a Harvard Business Review podcast that after deciding the kind of innovation to focus on, the next step is to observe the customer and see what needs aren't being met.

In the higher education industry, he said that means looking at not only our students, but also at their potential employers. How can colleges and universities create and improve programs that give busy learners the skills and competencies that employers need, and how can it be achieved in the most efficient manner?

The California Awards for Innovation in Higher Education Showcase will demonstrate that this work is happening already, right here in California.

The Budget Act of 2014 appropriates $50 million in one-time resources from the General Fund for the Awards for Innovation in Higher Education. The Awards Committee will announce the winners and the amount of the awards later in the spring.

Partners of the Showcase include the College Futures Foundation, California Forward, the California Economic Summit, the Center for California Studies at Sacramento State, The Campaign for College Opportunities, the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, California Competes and the Young Invincibles.

Registration for the event is closed. For more information about the Showcase or to get on the waiting list please contract innovation@cafwd.org or call at 916-491-0022.

Categories: Community Services, Innovation in Higher Education

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