PORT ANGELES — Peninsula College announced Monday it will receive a $2.2 million grant from the federal Department of Education that officials say will enhance student success and academic quality.
Officials learned Sept. 28 it would receive the Title III Strengthening Institutions grant, money it plans to use to establish a Career Pathways Center, a Veteran’s Center and a Center for Teaching and Learning.
“We’re very excited to have received the grant,” said Peninsula College President Luke Robins. “There were less than a dozen awarded nationally.”
He credited the “outstanding work” of the people on campus that put the proposal together for securing the grant.
“It’s a delight that we were selected,” said Sharon Buck, vice president of instruction. “I think it will make a huge difference in our ability to enact some of our visions.”
Buck said the award was a bit unexpected. Peninsula College had applied for the grant two years ago but was knocked out of the running when the college was one point short in the tie-breaking round, she said.
She said typically that would mean the college would need to resubmit an application, but instead, the Department of Education decided to fund colleges that were not selected previously.
“We’re thrilled with the opportunities this is going to give us,” she said. “You can’t just keep adding more money through tuition and other resources to do what we do.”
The grant will allow the college to hire several positions, including a career pathways director, a long house director and an associate dean for teaching and learning. It will also hire part time positions, including a success navigator, grants management coordinator and peer mentors as needed.
Robins said when Peninsula College did not receive the grant two years ago the college began to move forward on its plans anyway — just a bit slower than hoped.
“We’ve continued to try to figure out ways to move forward,” he said.
He said staff will be working over the next several weeks to compare what has already been done to what was included in the grant funding and see how the new funding fits in.
In addition to the new positions, funds will be used toward software and equipment to assist students with disabilities, as well as four construction projects.
The grant period begins Oct. 1, 2018, and the college will receive roughly $450,000 per year for five years for a total of $2,227,618.
Buck said the goal will be to find local funding to keep the new programs going after the grant ends in five years.
“The grant enforces a balance of local money and grant money to ensure these things become part of the fabric of your institution by the end of five years,” Buck said.
About $85,000 per year from the grant will go toward building an unrestricted endowment to support expansion of student success programs.
“I don’t know of any other grant that includes an endowment,” Buck said.
The Peninsula College Foundation has committed to matching that amount, dollar for dollar.
Over the course of the five-year grant period, $1 million will be endowed — $425,000 from the grant, $425,000 in matching funds from the Peninsula College Foundation and an additional $150,000 that the foundation has committed to raise in support of students and the college. More than 60 percent of the matching funds had already been pledged at the time of the grant submission.
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].