Los Rios Colleges Kick-Start New Focus on Online Education with $1.7 Million in State Grants

September 23, 2019

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All four colleges in the Los Rios Community College District – American River College, Cosumnes River College, Folsom Lake College and Sacramento City College – have been awarded grants to help develop and strengthen online career education programs. In total, the Los Rios colleges received almost $1.7 million in four separate grants, the most money awarded to any community college district in California. While the four grants were applied for by, and awarded to, specific Los Rios colleges, each of them will benefit students at all Los Rios colleges.

These grants, and the innovative work they will support, are part of a larger districtwide focus on expanding and improving online education in Los Rios. Online enrollment in Los Rios has grown steadily in recent years, as more and more students seek online programs as a means to achieve their academic goals while often managing full-time jobs or other life circumstances that make traditional on-ground programs difficult. So far this year, Los Rios has seen a 12.4% increase in the number of students taking exclusively online courses. As the district’s online course inventory and services grow, Los Rios anticipates that number will continue to increase.

Information about each of the four grants:

The largest of the four grants is focused on improving the quality of online career education certificate and degree programs by investing in additional training and support for faculty in designing their online courses. Research shows that well-designed online courses result in higher success rates for students.  This grant provides $551k so more instructors districtwide have the skills they need to provide exemplary online learning opportunities for students.

The second grant aims to address an ongoing regional shortage in cybersecurity workforce by developing a 100% online Associate of Science degree in Cybersecurity jointly offered by American River College, Cosumnes River College and Sacramento City College. All three colleges offer existing on-ground cybersecurity programs, and this grant of $548k will align the curriculum of the existing programs and add new classes so that the Associate degree in Cybersecurity can be earned completely online.

Providing quality wraparound student services – such as support with academic counseling, financial aid, tutoring and admissions – can be a challenge in an online environment. The third grant will provide $454k to build opportunities to make these types of resources available for online career education students, with the goal of ultimately expanding it to all online students in Los Rios.

The final grant award provides $145k to develop and grow online programs in Health Information Management and Public Sector at Cosumnes River College and Folsom Lake College, respectively. These two programs meet a particular need in the Capital region, with health care among the fastest growing sectors in the Sacramento area and the ongoing need for qualified trained workers in state agencies.

In total, the four grants provide almost $1.7 million in resources to launch and grow these innovative programs. In each case, Los Rios is leveraging its size and geographic reach to ensure that the state’s investment in our colleges pays significant dividends for students and regional employers.

“Beyond the additional resources, which are incredibly important, I’m particularly proud of our district’s approach to applying for and securing these grants in a coordinated way amongst our four colleges,” said Brian King, Chancellor of the Los Rios Community College District. “One of the great assets that Los Rios offers students in our region is the ability to access the classes, services and expertise of four excellent colleges in one district. Through these grants, and our work to build and grow our online education presence, we hope to make it even easier for students to take advantage of everything that our four colleges have to offer.”

Awards were made through the Improving Online CTE Pathways grant program developed by the California Community Colleges’ California Virtual Campus – Online Education Initiative (CVC-OEI). Funding for the grants came from the 2018-2019 state budget.