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Grant Showcase

Every quarter, the Grants Office will feature a program at College of DuPage that has been funded by a grant. These programs are just a few of the many outstanding initiatives supported by external grant funding.

Illinois Equity in Attainment Catalyst Program at College of DuPage

At College of DuPage, student success is the top priority, and COD is committed to building institutional cultural competence along a continuum of learning opportunities. As part of the 2022-2026 Strategic Long Range Plan, equity and inclusion is a foundational value and a significant component of every strategic pillar. 

In 2018, the Partnership for College Completion (PCC) launched the Illinois Equity in Attainment Initiative (ILEA), composed of a consortium of 25 Illinois colleges and universities across the state, including College of DuPage. ILEA set out to have each institution commit to a path that eliminates racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps by 2025 and prioritize increasing completion rates for Black, Latinx, and under-resourced students on campus. To address this challenge, the COD Equity and Access Team identified four key strategies:

  1. Establish a comprehensive Multicultural Center
  2. Offer equity training for all COD employees and students
  3. Adopt hiring practices that increase and retain diverse talent
  4. Increase student access to financial resources and financial education

PCC awarded a Catalyst grant to COD in 2021 to assist with this effort and sustain momentum in achieving the four strategies. The grant supported three unique forms of professional development activities for student leaders, student staff, and faculty to learn about the concept of equity, current equity gaps in the higher education system, and solutions to reduce those gaps. From Fall 2021 to Spring 2022, COD piloted an asynchronous e-course from SpeakOut on “Race, Power, and Privilege” and three speaker series events on a variety of issues related to equity and student success. Select COD faculty and staff also had the opportunity to attend the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities 35th Annual Conference to learn more from Hispanic higher education scholars and HSI institutions on support structures for Latinx students. Carrying out these activities have served as an important milestone to identifying areas of success and growth in COD’s Equity Plan, while also helping the Equity Team work towards catering these programs to COD’s specific needs. 

The generous support and guidance from PCC has been essential to developing a more equitable, inclusive, and successful learning environment for students at College of DuPage. Staff and faculty including Jill Salas, Roberto C. Valadez, and COD’s Equity Access Team have worked hard to carry out this program and continue to play an essential role in ensuring COD’s future vision for the elimination of equity gaps becomes a reality. We greatly appreciate all that they do for our campus and the community! 

Further Reading

Previous Featured Programs

Since 1989, the College of DuPage Meteorology Department and its Next Generation Weather Lab (NEXLAB) regularly receives widespread acclaim for its state-of-the art weather datasets and satellite imaging technology. From local weather stations to national media, NEXLAB data is frequently cited for meteorological studies and weather forecasting. Located on College of DuPage’s Glen Ellyn campus, the program is known in the region for its high-quality meteorology education. With the support of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) and Unidata (funded by the National Science Foundation), students, researchers, and the public have access to state-of-the-art software and programs that deliver real-time global meteorological data.

Financial assistance through Unidata’s Community Equipment Awards grant program supports meteorology programs by providing funding to purchase the servers and other hardware necessary to create and share meteorological data with the greater Unidata community and the world-at-large. The COD Meteorology Program partners with several national institutions to provide up-to-date observational datasets with a powerful user experience for educational and research purposes. For over 14 years, subsets of NEXLAB’s radar mosaic imagery have been archived by UCAR and is viewable alongside several other datasets. In 2017, COD began a partnership with Iowa State University to archive additional imagery, and 2019 also saw a new collaboration with Texas Tech University to integrate datasets. These archives and datasets are vital in accurate research of our climate and weather, and have been widely used by the meteorological community of researchers and academics. These datasets are also open to the general public who are interested in gaining a better understanding of past weather events. Thanks to the support of Unidata, NEXLAB has the capability to capture high-resolution GOES-16 and GOES-17 satellite imagery, as well as GOES-18 which is scheduled to launch in March 2022. Furthermore, these images can be layered with multiple NEXLAB-provided datasets to create a variety of useful visual configurations.

The COD Meteorology Program provides a significant service to the community. Current webpage users include the National Weather Service, the US military, forestry services, Environment Canada, utility companies, and most universities needing weather information. COD’s NEXLAB online presence continues to be one of the most popular meteorological websites in the country, with a typical day seeing 5 to 10 million hits, and 20,000 to 40,000 unique visitors. Approximately 800GB to 1TB of outgoing data is also downloaded daily. The busiest activity occurs during hurricane season, with September 9th, 2020 seeing over 38 million hits, 115,000 unique visitors, and 3.77TB of exported data.

Unidata’s support is essential to capturing high resolution images for public dissemination, furthering education curricula and research. Staff including Professor Paul Sirvatka and Michael Zuranski work hard to keep NEXLAB running and are vital to maintaining the strong reputation and integrity of the program. We greatly appreciate all that the COD Meteorology Program does for the community and the field!

Further Reading:

For over 20 years, the College of DuPage Accountancy Program has hosted the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program to provide College of DuPage Accounting students an opportunity to learn individual income tax preparation and serve the local community by assisting in the preparation and filing of their taxes. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) designed this initiative to support free tax preparation services during the tax filing season for underserved populations at partner institutions across the country. With virtual, drop-off, and walk-in tax return services, VITA staff and volunteers help prepare thousands of tax returns annually for some of the most vulnerable populations in the community. The backbone of the VITA program at COD relies on its volunteers and coordinators to ensure an efficient and accurate processing system.

COD VITA program volunteers are comprised primarily of students at College of DuPage who are earning a degree or certification in Accounting or are working on their CPA credentials. These volunteers are trained by program faculty and are provided with extensive, real-world examples and applications of tax law. Each volunteer undergoes a minimum of 25 hours of classroom training and must pass applicable IRS certification examinations before they begin preparing returns for clients. College of DuPage faculty and community members serve as additional volunteers, in addition to District 200 high school Key Club members who assist with customer check-in services. The IRS VITA program provides volunteers real-world, hands-on experiences and soft-skills development, while directly serving clients who need their services the most. The program has seen a steady growth of volunteers over the years due to the overwhelming positive feedback of the program coupled with the program expanding its geographic reach beyond the main campus and satellite campuses to other community centers. This growing volunteer base has directly led to more clients being seen in the community and an increase in the number of successfully processed returns.

The VITA program at College of DuPage serves all of DuPage County and parts of Will and Cook Counties. Working with social service agencies in these areas, the program has been able to bring in clients most in need within the district boundaries. Traditional filing services for individuals are available on COD’s main campus during filing season, and drop-off locations include COD’s satellite campuses of Addison, Carol Stream, and Westmont, in addition to partnering with Community School District 89. With the growing number of available sites and ease of access via public bus lines, more VITA clients have been able to utilize these free services.

In recognition of these outstanding achievements the IRS has, for several years, provided valuable grant funding that has helped fuel the growth of our program. The success of this program requires significant effort and coordination between faculty, staff, the Internal Revenue Service, and local community centers that host VITA customers and volunteers. Mark Yahoudy, Maureen McBeth, and Bev Carlson work diligently to bring all the pieces of this program together and ensure the volunteers are well prepared and that the program runs smoothly. The IRS reviews the COD program annually and has consistently awarded the team with exemplary scores. We greatly appreciate all that the VITA team does for this important program for the community!

Further Reading:

The IRS VITA program at College of DuPage is a program that receives federal financial assistance from the U.S. Department of the Treasury. We do not discriminate based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, and reprisal.

The Community College Initiative (CCI) Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and administered by Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), is an international student exchange program where individuals from countries around the world participate in academic programs at select U.S. community colleges, develop leadership capabilities, professional skills, and English language proficiency for up to one academic year. Since 2012, College of DuPage has hosted 136 CCI participants from across the globe, including far-reaching countries such as Ghana, Indonesia, and Colombia.

Students are recruited from historically underrepresented and underserved communities, and this program gives them the opportunity to learn and bring back valuable skills and expertise leading to economic growth and development in their home countries. Simultaneously, CCI participants help community college campuses like COD include more diverse perspectives in the classroom. Participants of the CCI program may build technical skills and earn certificates in their fields of study, from culinary arts to engineering. Students can also partake in professional internships, service-learning opportunities, and other community engagement activities to build work experience related to their field, strengthen their English language proficiency, and learn about United States culture.

CCI students typical volunteer at campus and local community organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Chicago Marathon COD Cares, and People’s Resource Center. CCI students also gain internship experience with a variety of local organizations, government agencies, and businesses. Over 80% of students earned a COD certificate in a field of study, including but not limited to Culinary Arts, Horticulture, Tourism, Management, and Entrepreneurship. Outside of work, CCI students are incredibly active in student clubs, participate in conferences and speaking engagements, research projects, and other culture sharing and outing opportunities like festivals, museum tours, sporting events, and mentorship programs. After returning to their home countries, students have reported numerous successes from starting their own businesses, beginning careers in teaching, non-profits, or tourism work, and more!

The success of these students requires the hard work and coordinated efforts between the Department of State, NOVA, and the International Student Services Office at College of DuPage. Kayla Chepyator and the International Student Services Office have worked diligently to ensure these students have the best possible experience here at COD and leave with enriching experiences. We greatly appreciate all that Kayla and her team does for this inspiring and important program!

Further Reading:

This piece was funded in part by a grant from the United States Department of State. The opinions, findings and conclusions stated herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Department of State.

A relatively new initiative at College of DuPage is the Project Hire-Ed Registered Apprenticeship Program which is ambitious in size and scope. Through collaborations with local DuPage County employers, schools, government, and workforce organizations, Project Hire-Ed is a robust apprenticeship program designed to boost economic mobility and close the skills gap for the community workforce. Project Hire-Ed has partnered with multiple companies, including Pioneer Services, SWD Inc., and Mauser Packaging Solutions, and continues to expand its network of businesses offering apprenticeships to students in specific fields. The program has also partnered with WorkNet DuPage and local school districts to recruit strong and diverse cohorts of students.

The model implemented on campus provides a cost-effective solution for employers looking to fill open positions in several sectors, including Advanced Manufacturing, HVACR, Welding, Horticulture, Cybersecurity, Information Technology, and Health Care. Students participating in the Project Hire-Ed program go through an “Earn and Learn” pathway, where they take classes at College of DuPage to earn college credit while performing on the job training (OTJ) with a partner company. Both classes and OTJ training are aligned to ensure a seamless experience for students and to ultimately address skills gaps identified by employers.

With the support of a significant grant through the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO), Project Hire-Ed has successfully moved beyond its pilot stage and has established a permanent presence on campus. DCEO funding facilitates the strengthening of Project Hire-Ed’s infrastructure through hiring of additional staff and supporting activities that expand the program to more partners and apprentices. We appreciate the support of DCEO and the work that Danielle and her team dedicates to this valuable program!

Further Reading:

Through the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB), College of DuPage receives approximately $2.7 million annually in federal and state funding from the Adult Education & Literacy program to support essential programming for adult learners. Adult Education provides important services that assist adults in improving skills, achieving educational goals, and transitioning to employment. These programs ultimately give students the opportunity to enter the workforce, earn a living wage, and meet the needs of the region's employers. COD demonstrates the second-highest index of need for adult education services in the state (outside of the City Colleges collective). Community College District 502 has 61,897 adults without a high school diploma, 47,065 adults living in households with incomes below the federal poverty level, and 234,693 adults in households where English is not the primary language spoken.

The College of DuPage Adult Education and ELA Office provides a variety of services and courses for adult learners, some of which are provided at no cost to the student, due to funding from ICCB. COD is one of the largest service providers of adult education in the state with a variety of program offerings including:

  • Adult Basic Education (ABE) – Designed for adults who do not have a high school diploma and help students build reading, writing, and math skills and work towards obtaining their GED.
  • High School Equivalency (HSE) – Courses that help prepare students to pass the GED or an equivalent high school certificate exam.
    Citizenship – Adult learners who are preparing to become United States Citizens can take free courses at College of DuPage to help them pass citizenship exams.
  • English Language Acquisition (ELA) – Specifically for English as a Second Language (ESL) students, ELA courses provide free resources to help develop reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills.
  • Integrated Career and Academic Preparation System (ICAPS) – For students looking to enter a career pathway into a high-demand field, ICAPS gives adult learners the opportunity to earn college credit, receive assistance in job placement with partner companies, and earn certificates to help secure employment.

Funding over the years has allowed the Adult Education program to reach more communities and provide additional resources and wraparound services to students. Where many providers focus on or two areas of support, College of DuPage provides a wide array of educational and support services for the 3,200 students it sees on average annually. In particular, funding has supported the implementation of Student Success Coaches (SSCs) to provide student guidance in a variety of ways including transitioning adult students to post-secondary education or employment training. SSCs host "Student Transition Days" where adult education students tour College of DuPage and meet with career and academic program representatives to receive hands-on assistance with admissions, financial aid, scholarships, and more. SSCs also work closely with COD Navigators to help transition adult education students to post-secondary education. Over the last decade, COD's Adult Education program has transitioned more than 4,100 adults into tuition-based college courses.

The Adult Education and ELA Office partners with many internal and external stakeholders to provide a valuable link between adult learners and opportunities for employment, making the program a leader in adult education career pathways, bridge programming, and Integrated Education and Training. From COD's own Career and Technical Education (CTE) and Navigators programs to local organizations like WorkNet DuPage and other regional employers, there are many opportunities for adult learners to start a meaningful and fulfilling career.

Dan Deasy, Operations and Compliance Manager, oversees and coordinates the ABE, HSE, and ELA program activities at College of DuPage and ensures students are making the most out of the Adult Education programs offered here. We are glad ICCB values and supports the strength and quality of adult education at COD, and we appreciate the hard work Mr. Deasy and his team to maintain an excellent and highly respected program!

Further Reading:

Through the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB), College of DuPage receives almost $3 million annually in federal and state funding from the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V). This legislation delivers federal support to state and local high school and college CTE programs that provide students the knowledge, skills, and experience necessary to succeed in today's competitive marketplace. COD offers essential CTE programming for students, from skilled trades to applied science and technology programs. The funding received by COD supports over 250 CTE degrees and certificate programs, including everything from accounting, computer and internetworking technologies, electronics, HVACR, manufacturing, and welding. Perkins funding supports CTE at all levels, from professional development opportunities for faculty and staff, to equipment purchases to promote hands-on learning as well as skills development programs (such as STEMCON) for students.

Thanks to the generous support of Perkins funding over the years, many successful projects have been completed at COD. For example, in 2018 a group Architecture Design + Build studio students, led by Mark A. Pearson, AIA, designed and built the Fuel Garden and Russell R. Kirt Prairie Pavilion over 8 weeks with $10,000. The pavilion serves as both a beautiful physical gathering space in the prairie as well as a symbol bringing awareness to the COD Fuel Garden.

A different program supported by Perkins funding is the Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration (HVACR) program at COD led by Bob Clark. Over the past five years, Dr. Clark has expanded the program to include state-of-the-art HVAC electronic control trainers for COD's lab facility, which were designed by Dr. Clark. These trainers teach students HVAC skills and competencies through the construction and building of the trainers. As a result of these successful teaching innovations, Dr. Clark has been featured in multiple trade articles, and has been honored as both the Illinois ACTE Teacher of the Year and Regional ACTE Teacher of the Year. He was also nominated for the National ACTE Teacher of the Year.

Jonita Ellis, CTE Program Improvement Manager, oversees and coordinates Perkins activities at COD to ensure faculty, staff, and students are making the most out of the CTE programs offered here. We appreciate the hard work and dedication that Ms. Ellis and the Academic Affairs team dedicates to executing the CTE programs supported by Perkins!

Further Reading:

The Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) hosts the Illinois Cooperative Work Study Program (ICWS), a grant program that "...is designed to enhance public-private sector partnerships, expand internship opportunities, reduce student reliance on loans, encourage permanent employment of Illinois graduates in Illinois, and provide links between academic programs and employment." Internships are increasingly important to College of DuPage students in applying their education and gaining real-world experience in the workplace, and ultimately securing employment after graduation.

Since 2010, the COD Career Services Department has received a grant from IBHE to support a program that coordinates internships for COD students with regional employers. Krystina LaSorsa, Interim Manager of Career Services, coordinates partner employers and student interns to ensure positive, relevant, and successful internship experiences. This year, COD was awarded over $44,000 to support the program which supplements employer wages paid to COD interns. Both employers and student-interns have reported their belief in the value and importance of this program and the experience it provides to our students. We appreciate the work that Ms. LaSorsa dedicates to this grant program!

Further Reading:

We are always happy to work with any faculty, staff, or administrator who is interested in learning more about participating in or leading a grant-funded project. Please contact Marcia Frank or Andrew Luce to learn more!

 

Contact Information

Marcia Frank
Grants Manager
(630) 942-4611
Email: frankm182@cod.edu

Andrew Luce
Grants Specialist
(630) 942-4613
Email: lucea@cod.edu