The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education were recently approved for a grant of more than $777,000 over a three-year period from Lumina Foundation to support the Oklahoma Adult Promise program.
The grant is designed to provide opportunities for adults to return and complete degree programs with funding and support from partnerships developed to ensure student success. As a foundation, Oklahoma will build upon the current Reach Higher adult degree completion program, which offers three discrete degree plans for working adults who have earned a minimum number of credit hours and want to complete an associate or bachelor’s degree. The expanded adult degree completion program will offer assistance to individuals willing to pursue degree programs deemed by business, industry and other state partners to meet specific workforce needs as defined by Oklahoma Works’ 100 Critical Occupations.
“Oklahoma is a leader in engaging adult students to return and complete higher education degrees,” said Chancellor Glen D. Johnson. “The Lumina Foundation grant for our Adult Promise program will be vital to improving access and affordability and providing important services that benefit more adult learners around the state.”
Phase I of the Adult Promise program will target individuals identified by state partners who are within 15 credit hours (75 percent) of completing an associate degree or within 60 credit hours (50 percent) of completing a baccalaureate on the list of degrees desired by the state partner. Each participant must have a 2.0 grade point average in all previous college credits and must have completed all remedial coursework.
Phase II will require both associate and baccalaureate students to be within 50 percent of completion.
The program will identify individuals and connect them to existing tuition and educational assistance through employers, tribal education offices, workforce centers, non-profits and/or other entities. Lumina grant funding will support outreach, mentoring, coaching, and advising services and facilitate adult student access to other key assistance programs, such as child care, tutoring, emergency funding, book/fee assistance, transportation, nutritional assistance and housing assistance.
The State Regents were informed of an opportunity to support and expand Reach Higher through the State Higher Education Executive Officers and Lumina Foundation in 2016, when SHEEO received Lumina Foundation support to develop a feasibility study of aid programs geared toward adult students. Oklahoma was one of six states that participated in preliminary discussion of pilot programs with SHEEO and Lumina, and the State Regents convened stakeholders from the Governor’s office, Oklahoma Works, tribal education offices, local workforce boards, colleges and universities, business and industry, core state agencies and other entities to frame the development of a final proposal to Lumina for funding consideration.
Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation in Indianapolis that is committed to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all. Lumina envisions a system that is easy to navigate, delivers fair results, and meets the nation’s need for talent through a broad range of credentials. The Foundation’s goal is to prepare people for informed citizenship and for success in a global economy.