Nearly $30 million in federal aid is being doled out to dozens of colleges and universities across New Jersey as part of an effort to address the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on postsecondary students.
The funding being used to finance two new programs that support the goals of the State Plan for Higher Education—a competitive challenge grant open to higher education institutions—and a second grant to combat hunger and food insecurity on college campuses, according to Gov. Phil Murphy.
In a July 12 press release, Murphy said, “Our institutions of higher education have provided a high-quality education to our students throughout the pandemic, despite challenging circumstances.”
“Supporting our institutions will continue to be a priority as they work to provide an equitable educational experience for students, prepare them for the jobs of the future and meet challenges ahead,” he said.
‘Opportunity Meets Innovation Challenge’
Approximately $28.5 million—which came from the U.S. Department of Education—will go to 35 public and private institutions that applied to the Opportunity Meets Innovation Challenge (OMIC), a new competitive grant program that provides resources for schools to implement changes that will improve student outcomes.
As part of the program, colleges and universities are required to launch initiatives that increase college completion rates, create lasting systemic reforms and address barriers to success, particularly among historically disadvantaged students, such as low-income, underrepresented minority and working-age adult students.
The governor’s office noted that these populations were among the hardest hit by the public health emergency, which resulted in declines in enrollments, challenges to student success and high unemployment figures.
Preparing Students For A ‘Post-Pandemic’ Workforce
New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education Dr. Brian Bridges said this “critical federal funding” will help prioritize student needs and ensure the state’s workforce is “ready to meet the challenge of tomorrow’s post-pandemic economy.”
“We appreciate that institutions are committed to this challenge and look forward to learning from the innovative best practices implemented, as we strive to meet the state’s goal of 65% of residents earning a high-quality credential by 2025,” Bridges added.
Opportunity Meets Innovation Challenge Grant Recipients
- Montclair State University – $1,310,500
- New Jersey Institute of Technology – $1,401,884
- Rowan University – $1,499,993
- Rutgers, Camden – $875,520
- Rutgers, New Brunswick – $638,102
- Rutgers, Newark – $1,500,000
- Kean University – $832,566
- New Jersey City University – $498,344
- Ramapo College of NJ – $283,000
- Stockton University – $662,280
- The College of New Jersey – $1,000,000
- Thomas Edison State University – $483,496
- William Paterson University – $1,488,000
- Atlantic Cape Community College – $414,297
- Bergen Community College – $562,492
- Brookdale Community College – $374,460
- Camden County College – $814,193
- Essex County College – $1,000,000
- Hudson County Community College – $499,983
- Mercer County Community College – $1,000,000
- Middlesex College – $542,000
- Passaic County Community College – $1,000,000
- Raritan Valley Community College – $983,118
- Rowan College at Burlington County – $1,000,000
- Salem Community College – $398,100
- Union County College – $998,800
- Bloomfield College – $500,000
- Drew University – $500,000
- Fairleigh Dickinson University – $1,395,777
- Georgian Court University – $200,000
- Rider University – $500,000
- Saint Elizabeth University – $498,860
- Saint Peter’s University – $500,000
- Seton Hall University – $1,495,190
- Stevens Institute of Technology – $849,042
Addressing Food Insecurity, Hunger
In addition to OMIC funding, the state provided more than $1 million to 11 schools through the Hunger-Free Campus Grant Program to help address food insecurity among students.
In addition to addressing hunger, funding will be used to create more sustainable solutions to basic food needs, raise awareness of current services and continue to form partnerships combat the problem.
Even before the pandemic, at least 40% of New Jersey community college students reported that they were food insecure, according to a February 2020 survey.
“Worrying about where your next meal will come from should not be part of the daily challenges that academics and extracurricular activities present to students,” said Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D-27). “This funding will ease the worries of students and their families, and work towards mitigating food insecurity on college campuses.”
Hunger-Free Campus Grant Recipients
- Montclair State University – $100,000
- Rowan University – $100,000
- Rutgers, New Brunswick – $99,647
- Rutgers, Newark – $100,000
- Kean University – $56,200
- Stockton University – $80,038
- The College of New Jersey – $99,082
- Camden County College – $100,000
- Mercer County Community College – $99,833
- Middlesex College – $100,000
- Ocean County College – $79,317