Funding community college innovation

Eight projects financed with the Community College Innovation Fund of NH

Seed funding has been awarded to eight projects at five New Hampshire community colleges through the third round of grants awarded by the Community College Innovation Fund of NH.

The fund, created in 2012 by private donors to foster innovation in the community colleges, awards grants to college faculty and staff whose proposals are evaluated by a panel of New Hampshire venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and business leaders.

In addition to funding – awards range from $1,000 to $8,400 – recipients will benefit from access to a group of experts organized to support their efforts.

The majority of projects funded this year focus on the STEM (science, math, engineering and technology) fields, and many engage students at the middle and high school level in order to build interest in college STEM pathways.

Each project will serve as a pilot effort that can potentially be scaled up or shared to create broad impact across the system, said Ross Gittell, chancellor of the Community College System of NH.

Projects funded for 2015 are: 

• Establishing a computer-numeric controlled skills competition for Lakes Region area students (Lakes Region Community College)

• Developing a low-cost college robotics competition for community college students (Manchester Community College)

• Developing online instructional content for hands-on skill training in advanced manufacturing (Great Bay Community College)

• Provide a STEM “roadshow” for a K-12 to White Mountains Community College educational outreach, promotion and recruitment 

• Create online health sciences lab training modules to serve students in rural areas (River Valley Community College)

• Provide summer STEM camp for high school students in the Claremont and Keene area (River Valley Community College)

• Create a technology camp for middle and high school girls in the Lakes Region area (Lakes Region Community College)

• Develop a partnership with Big Brothers/Big Sisters organization and provide a “student for a day” program focused on building college aspirations (Manchester Community College)

The selection committee included Gittell, Jesse Devitte of Borealis Ventures, Matt Pierson of Dunn Rush & Co., Jeremy Hitchcock of Dyn Inc., and Eric Herr, former president of Autodesk.

“We are happy to help seed the impressive ideas and initiatives of faculty and staff at our community colleges, which we see as a critical focal point in higher education and workforce training,” said Devitte, a charter supporter of the Innovation Fund. “This mirrors what we do, working with entrepreneurs every day in our role as venture capitalists. We applaud CCSNH for applying private market principles to public higher education.”  

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