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Affordable Pathways Partnership Grants


The Affordable Pathways Partnership Grants were established through the support of Governor McAuliffe and funding from the General Assembly during the 2016 General Assembly session as part of the Fund for Excellence and Innovation. The goal of the grants is to stimulate the collaboration between public school divisions, community colleges and universities to create and expand affordable student pathway programs.  

Development of affordable pathways partnerships is a component of the Virginia Plan for Higher Education, the statewide strategic plan, and supports the commonwealth’s objective to be the best-educated state by 2030.

SCHEV defines affordable student pathways as sequential academic courses or learning experiences with connected support services designed to result in a cost savings to the student while in the pursuit of a degree and/or workforce credential.

Grants awarded in the first round targeted the expansion and creation of sustainable affordable pathways programs that focus primarily on high school to college-age students; strengthen PK-12 partnerships with higher education; implement or expand pathways that support cost savings to students such as opportunities for early college credit, improve time-to-degree/credential or completion rates, particularly for underrepresented populations;  and lead to a degree, certificate or workforce credential. Underrepresented populations are defined by SCHEV as students who are a racial/ethnic minority, from a low-income background and/or are from areas of the state with low degree attainment rates, based on census data. 

Round One Grants Awarded December 2016

The initial round of grants were targeted towards public higher education institutions focused on the creation or expansion of affordable pathways programs primarily for traditional high school to college age underrepresented populations. Five grants were awarded with an average cost savings of $10,000 for students who complete the pathway program. 

Information on the awardees and a description of their programs is available here. 

Reynolds Early College Academy, a partnership between Reynolds Community College and Richmond City Public Schools ($133,476). The academy will give participating students a chance to earn associate’s of science degrees in social sciences while in high school.

Tyler Early College Academy, a partnership of John Tyler Community College with Hopewell and Petersburg schools ($138,636). The grant will be used to expand the college-level coursework for students attending the academy.

Old Dominion University, Kempsville High School and Tidewater Community College ($140,000). The program will offer students a path from the high school’s Entrepreneurship and Business Academy, through enrollment in TCC’s business and entrepreneurship program, to ODU’s leadership major. It will use online and other resources rather than textbooks to reduce costs to students.

Patrick Henry Community College, Henry County and Martinsville City public schools ($119,729). The program will create an advanced-manufacturing pathway for advanced technical training.

Piedmont Virginia Community College and Charlottesville Albemarle Technical Education Center ($129,762). The program will establish options to earn both high school and college credit in healthcare, hospitality and cybersecurity. 

Expected outcomes: 

  • Increased cost savings to students 
  • Increased education outcomes for traditional high school to college age populations, particularly those that experience barriers to education
  • Enhanced partnerships between PK12 and higher education
  • Sustainability of the program and partnerships
  • Program scalability


One-page overview: Affordable Pathways Grant overview
Guidelines: Grant Guidelines

Round Two Grants for 2017

Grant Open:  December 15, 2016
Grant Deadline: February 27, 2017
Grant Performance Period:  April 15, 2017 - April 14, 2018 (12-months)

Grants awarded in this second round of funding, from the Fund for Excellence and Innovation, support planning activities that target the establishment and expansion of effective partnerships between higher education and secondary schools/divisions in order to ease transitions and create successful pathways for Virginia high school students. 

Grant Guidelines:

Education Partnership Planning Grant Guidance (PDF)

Grant Application and Forms:

Planning Grant Application (Word)

Budget form for Partnership Planning Grant (Excel)

Pre-proposal Webinar:

The pre-proposal webinar occurred on Thursday, January 12, 2017, 2 p.m. to review the grant guidance and respond to queries from organizations interested in submitting a proposal. The PowerPoint presentation and audio file are listed below for review.

Education Partnership Planning Grant pre-proposal presentation (PowerPoint)
Education Partnership Planning Grant audio (13:52) (mp4)

The following questions and answers were received during the webinar or submitted thereafter:

If the minimum number of partners is involved, can the process include recruitment of additional partners, or do all partners have to be onboard from the beginning?

  • All partners do not have to be onboard from the beginning. Beyond the required partnership, to include 2- and 4- year higher education institutions and one public high school, school division or regional school consortium, other organizations do not have to be signed on in the beginning. However, an application may be strengthened if it can demonstrate buy-in and engagement from other partners that have been identified as necessary for program success. On the other hand, if starting a new partnership and program, part of the planning process should include identifying additional needed partners. Applications should clearly discuss how it would go about this identification process. Engagement of other partners should be directed by the required data and other forms of analysis and assessments.

Are there limitations on how many Affordable Pathways Partnership grants that can be awarded to one institution? For example, if my institution has already been awarded a Round One APP implementation grant, would we be eligible for a Stage Two grant with a different purpose and partnership?

  • Yes, you would still be eligible to receive another award through this funding opportunity; however, programming and partners should vary from the awarded Round 1 implementation grant to support partner expansion.

Can you talk a little bit about the how much of the eventual implementation plan must be known at the beginning?

  • The planning period should be used to develop the implementation plan, so it does not have to be defined in the application phase. The application should clearly state how the plan will be developed… partners, assessments, timeline, etc. Awardees should be implementation ready by the close of the 12-month planning grant performance period.

One of our partners will be a school division with multiple high schools. Should our application include one Partnership Identification Form from the division level with the understanding that it also covers the individual high schools, or should it include additional Partnership Identification Forms from each high school with the understanding that these forms would also require a division-level signature?

  • If you plan to work with the entire division or all of the division’s high schools, then I think the Partnership Identification form from the division/central office would be sufficient. However, if you are working with select schools within a division, then a form from each school demonstrating their various roles in the partnership and levels of commitment would be most appropriate. We would also accept forms from both the individual schools and the central office to help communicate strong engagement and awareness.

We are wondering if SCHEV might consider a Higher Education Center as a 4-year partner?

  • Higher education centers do not satisfy the 4-year institution partner requirement because they are not credential/degree granting institutions. However, if your intent was to work with one or more of its  tenants, that are 4-year institutions, then that’s who you need to note as your applicant 4-year partner. We welcome the inclusion of additional partners that help strengthen programming. As such, you could include the higher ed. center as an additional partner, if they will be playing a role in coordinating facets of the project.   Partner Identification forms should be completed for all partners.

If my institution received an Affordable Pathways Partnership implementation grant are we still eligible to receive an Education Partnership Planning grant.

  • Yes, but the pathway/curriculum and partners must be different.

May one institution submit more than one application for different programs?

  • Yes, with the understanding that the applications will be competing against one another for the same funds.

Is there a cap imposed on the percentage of the total cost for the indirect costs allowed for the planning grant?

  • Indirect costs are not allowed. Please refer to page 16 - Unallowable Expenditures.

Is it expected that the partnership pathway program be implementation-ready at the end of the grant?

  • Yes, that is the intent. The planning grant application should be written with the intent of being implementation-ready at the end of the 12-month performance period. We recognize that the planning process may identify challenges, new information and/or even a need to refocus the planned programming all together and any of these discoveries could delay implementation. This is understandable and allowances and support will be given during the performance period, as this type of information is shared through communication and progress updates.

Will there be flexibility with the submitted/approved timeline?

  • Yes. The intention is to begin with an expected timeline with delineated tasks, as requested in the application. We recognize that things change and plans don’t always go as expected, so we will consider and accept modifications to the timeline, as needed. Ongoing communication and reporting should support the need for adjustments.

Can one higher education institution (2- or 4-year) be a partner in more than one application submission.

  • Yes, with the understanding that the applications will be competing against one another for the same funds.

Questions and answers will be updated as received and additional application resource materials will be posted, as available.

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