Lamar Community College (LCC) will receive $1.57 million over the next two years from a U.S. Department of Education grant, intended to help institutions recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and mitigate any existing digital divide for its students.
The college will receive the Institutional Resilience and Expanded Postsecondary Opportunity (IREPO) grant which LCC will use to modernize its distance learning capabilities, support digital learning technology in high schools in its service area, provide training for instructors, and increase digital access for students. LCC was one of only 62 other institutions across the country, and one of only three in Colorado, to receive this competitive grant.
Kelli Gaines, LCC’s Title III project director, said these funds will help LCC work to return to pre-pandemic enrollments while ensuring greater educational equity through increased access to technology and broadband capabilities.
“Our community has been hit hard by the pandemic and made it even harder for low-income students to be able to access higher education,” Gaines said. “With this grant, we will be able to help fill those gaps so that all students can achieve their educational goals at our college and across our region no matter where they come from.”
LCC will use the funding to serve more students, expand its ability to offer services and instruction remotely, purchase new technology for classrooms, modernize equipment at distance learning locations, including area high schools, provide faculty training and support in the use of these technologies, and expand concurrent/dual enrollment (CE) capability for the region. The college will also purchase laptops and mobile hotspots for students who do not have technology at home.
“Not all students have a computer with internet access, which effectively deprives them of all kinds of learning activities,” Gaines said. “We will be able to erase that gap for our students, thanks to this grant.”
LCC lecture halls will also receive technology upgrades to allow for projection and interactive video presentations and will help to leverage other resources elsewhere in the college. The institution has received funding from the State of Colorado Joint Technology Committee to upgrade each lecture hall, but the budgeted amount for each was only $20,000 and total estimated cost for distance learning upgrades is $80,000.
LCC is in the process of seeking two new positions in support of the grant – The IREPO Grant Program Director and Instructional Designer is responsible for the direction, coordination, and oversight of the IREPO Grant and the development and support of multiple modality learning and teaching strategies and an Instructional Technology Support Specialist who will coordinate the design, ordering, and installation of technology upgrades at Lamar Community College and LCC remote sites. Interested individuals can apply at https://www.schooljobs.com/careers/cccs/lcc.