Million Dollar Grant Next Major Step for Innovation Campus
Contact Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (Aug. 1, 2012) – The Innovation Campus initiated cooperatively by the University of Central Missouri, Lee’s Summit R-7 School District, Metropolitan Community College and business partners has provided the catalyst for the establishment of other innovative programs to enhance Missouri’s workforce. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon today announced he is providing a $1 million Community Development Block Grant toward this initiative, plus $8 million in additional support for similar projects across the state. Nixon made the announcement during a whirlwind tour that is taking the governor to three different locations in Missouri.
CDBG applications were made by cities, counties and non-profit economic development organizations through the Missouri Department of Economic Development. The grant proposal benefitting the Innovation Campus in Lee’s Summit was jointly submitted by UCM and the Johnson County Economic Development Corporation in Warrensburg. Eight other grants were awarded across the state.
“Innovation Campuses create a direct connection for Missouri students between the skills they learn in the classroom, and the skills that are in demand today,” Gov. Nixon said. “Not only will students be trained for solid careers in growing industries, they’ll be able to earn those degrees in less time with lower debt as a result.”
In Lee’s Summit, students enroll in the Innovation Campus at the beginning of their junior year of high school with a goal of completing their bachelor’s degree within the next four years while earning course credit from Metropolitan Community College and UCM. In addition to an intense classroom program that begins at the R-7 Summit Technology Academy, throughout their education students will participate in high-impact apprenticeships and on-the-job education in cooperation with partnering corporations that include Cerner, DST and St. Luke’s Hospital. These companies will enter into participation agreements with the Innovation Campus, and receive grant funds through the JCEDC for hiring a supplemental workforce of those participating in the on-the-job learning experiences. The companies will then help underwrite the cost of training provided by the Innovation Campus.
Through such efforts, the Innovation Campus will make it possible to meet workforce needs in high-demand areas, while also enabling students to accelerate the time it takes to complete a university degree, and graduate with little or no college debt.
“The governor’s support for the Innovation Campus has been outstanding,” said UCM President Charles Ambrose. “He truly understands that a new model for higher education is needed to help meet Missouri’s workforce needs and to address one of the largest problems facing our country – student debt load. We appreciate the grant benefitting the Innovation Campus, and are particularly grateful for the Johnson County Economic Development Corporation, which worked with us to submit the proposal. We also appreciate the confidence the governor demonstrated in our initiative by inviting UCM and project partners to assist with a workshop earlier this spring for CDBG applicants.”
With the CDBG award, total state funding for the Innovation Campus is now $1.5 million. The governor in February announced in a press conference at the Summit Technology Academy his plan to kick off the $10 million state-wide competitive grant program, while also announcing an initial grant of $500,000 to UCM. He encouraged other institutions to engage in similar initiatives.
David McGehee, Lee’s Summit R-7 superintendent, said the school district is pleased that the governor has awarded additional grant funding for the joint initiative with UCM.
“Our Innovation Campus will benefit Lee's Summit R-7 and other area students for years to come while providing a model for other school districts interested in offering a program that truly partners high schools, higher education and local businesses," he said. "Thanks to the partnership and the financial assistance from the grants, we are able to offer our students the opportunity of a lifetime."
Twenty-three students enrolled at the Summit Technology Academy actually began taking in this new program this summer, and those classes will contribute to their Bachelor of Science in Systems Engineering Technology degree. They form the first cohort of students, and additional cohorts will be formed in subsequent years. By taking dual credit courses, these students will also complete an associate degree from Metropolitan Community College by the time they graduate from high school.