State Rewards USF, UCF and FIU Collaboration with $8.5M in Grants

USF News

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (March 20, 2014) - As part of an ambitious effort to align university and college degrees with the state’s workforce needs, Florida’s Board of Governors awarded $15 million in grants to four collaborative university projects Thursday. A newly formed consortium among Florida International University, the University of Central Florida and the University of South Florida System led the way, receiving $8.5 million for two projects.

The Targeted Educational Attainment (TEAm) grants, funded by the Florida Legislature and approved by Gov. Rick Scott during the last legislative session, are designed to produce more graduates for careers in the state’s highest-need areas, as identified by a Board of Governors gap analysis.

The awards mark a major accomplishment for FIU, UCF and USF, which collectively received a total of $8.5 million to address gaps in the areas of information technology and accounting, respectively. The two proposals were:

• The University of South Florida, the University of Central Florida and Florida International University will receive $4.9 million for An Urban University Coalition Response to Florida Computer Information Technology Workforce Needs.

• The University of South Florida, the University of Central Florida and Florida International University will receive a combined $3.6 million for An Innovative and Collaborative Approach to Increasing the Supply of Quality Accounting Graduates in Florida.

The universities, located in Florida’s three largest metropolitan areas and collectively serving about half of the students in the State University System, have recently formed the Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Universities.

Through this consortium, the universities will share best practices, policies and programs to provide maximized career-readiness, particularly among under-represented and limited-income students. Examples include enhanced predictive analytics to better track students’ degree progress, more targeted support through mentors and advisers, and closer partnerships with local companies to open up more internship or practicum opportunities.

The universities will also explore ways to maximize efficiencies by sharing things like software programs or student tracking systems to continue upward trends in student retention, completion and career placement.

The universities will use the shared knowledge gained in the forming of the consortium to tackle the projects funded through these TEAm grants.

“We’re proud the Board of Governors recognizes the unparalleled potential of USF, UCF and FIU working together to help meet Florida’s most pressing workforce needs,” said USF System President Judy Genshaft. “This is the first of many successful collaborative projects for this consortium. “

The TEAm awards follow more than 18 months of work by the Board of Governors’ Commission on Florida Higher Education Access and Attainment, a coalition of education, business and legislative leaders that identified the largest gaps between bachelor’s degree production and job needs. The effort marks an unprecedented level of collaboration between elected leaders, universities, state colleges and the business community.

"Providing opportunities for Florida's students to compete in the global economy is critical to our future success as a state," said House Speaker Will Weatherford. "The Florida Legislature was proud to provide support to the Board of Governors in its efforts to link our state universities to our workforce."

“This is just one great example of how our institutions are responding to the job needs of our state,” said former Board of Governors Chair Dean Colson, who launched the Commission. “Florida is a national leader in that regard, as evidenced by the strength of the proposals that won these prestigious awards.”

“Aligning university and college degrees with the state’s workforce needs will help foster a talent supply pipeline focused on Florida’s future,” said David Hart, executive vice president of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “This will provide greater opportunities for job creators to successfully compete in a global marketplace, and greater opportunities for Florida job seekers and their families.”

The additional winners are:

• Florida State University and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University will receive a combined $3 million for Expanding North Florida’s IT Career Pathways.

• Florida Atlantic University, Broward College and Palm Beach State College will receive a combined $3.5 million for a Computer Accelerated Pipeline to Unlock Regional Excellence.

Among other requirements, all grantees must spend the funds by the end of the 2014-2015 academic year. They will submit semi-annual reports to document outcomes, including the number of graduates entering the high-demand fields they are addressing.