Gates Foundation awards $330,000 grant to Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Foundation

Posted: May 10, 2010

Contact: Doug Anderson,, 651-201-1426

Grant will support cutting-edge approach to improve college retention and graduation rates

The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Foundation has been awarded a $330,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to improve student success and performance of postsecondary institutions.

The grant will support a partnership, the Action Analytics in Education Partnership, among the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities and several national organizations to advance “action analytics,” a cutting-edge approach that collects and analyzes data linked to student performance.

The partnership includes the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system; Capella University; The Shank Institute for Innovative Learning, a think tank that focuses on future technology and learning; and Strategic Initiatives, Inc., a developmental consulting firm.

“This grant boosts our ability to build analytics capacity and to cultivate behaviors that will demonstrably improve teaching and learning within colleges and universities,” said Linda Baer, senior vice chancellor for academic and student affairs and director of the project. “We are grateful that the Gates Foundation recognizes the promise of action analytics and the value of developing a national network of practitioners.”

Using this kind of data, faculty and advisors will be able to receive early warnings about students encountering difficulties that thwart academic progress and then help them stay on track. Higher education institutions and state policymakers also can use this data to determine how to allocate resources to maximize student success.

The grant will be used to establish a repository of best practices for improving student readiness, retention and success; identify new skills in data analytics that faculty and staff need to help students succeed; organize a community of analytics practitioners who can exchange ideas; and host two national symposia.

John Schweers, chair of the board of directors for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Foundation, commended the system’s “visionary role” in the field of action analytics. “The board takes great pride in its support of innovative programs,” he said. “We hope the Action Analytics in Education Partnership becomes the inspiration for additional recognition and support of the system’s colleges and universities.”