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Innovation Works

Montgomery College Innovation Works is an integrated Think and Do Tank, a center for supporting and nurturing mission-driven innovation.

Created through the generosity of the Webber Family Foundation, the Morris and  Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, and private donations, the Montgomery College Foundation’s Innovation Fund provides funding for innovative projects at Montgomery College that will have sustainable impact on helping students succeed in meeting their educational goals.

Montgomery College Innovation Works positions us to create strategic moments that allow students, staff, and faculty to develop skills and knowledge to equip them with the vision, skills, and education to ensure that Montgomery College can meet its calling as a world class institution.

Our goal is to create a safe space and extend opportunities for students, staff, faculty,  and community to develop the taste and capacity for mission-driven innovation and to proactively respond to the challenges facing higher education.

Innovation Grants

As part of our effort to foster new ideas, a number of grants are available to fund innovative strategies.

The 2023-2024 grant theme is “Innovations in Connection, Completion, and Community.”  The deadline for submission is March 19, 2024, and projects will conclude by May 31, 2025.
The Innovation Fund has up to $40,000 for projects that demonstrate how they will enhance the student experience across various learning environments, aiming not just at academic success but also at contributing to a richer community fabric.

  • Enhance the sense of connection among students, faculty, and the community, creating a pervasive sense of belonging.
  • Implement innovative solutions to improve student retention and timely completion of their academic goals.
  • Extend the impact of our educational environment into the community, fostering engagement that resonates beyond the campus borders.

Grants that promote collaboration and cross-functional teams will be given greater consideration.
We are looking for your best thinking and innovative strategies that will impact a broad range of students.
This grant is made possible through the generosity of Montgomery College Foundation donors. Award winners will be notified at the end of April and recognized at the closing meeting in May.  
Faculty, staff, administrators, and students. Collaboration among faculty, staff, students, and administrators on projects is highly encouraged. Students desiring to apply must partner with a faculty or staff member to apply. 
For questions, email: 

Submit Proposal

MC Foundation Innovation Grant Flyer  (PDF, Get Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader - Link opens in new window)

MC Foundation Innovation Grants Resources Guide (PDF, Get Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader - Link opens in new window)

MC Foundation Innovation Grants Information Videonew window

MC Foundation Innovation Grant Proposal Application Guidelines (PDF, Get Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader - Link opens in new window)

Abstracts From Previous Years:

Montgomery College Foundation Awards $65,200 through Innovation Fund Grants

The Montgomery College Foundation has awarded over $65,000 in Innovation Fund grants for 2023 to three initiatives that address student success, equity, and completion. The three were chosen from 10 proposals received. Created in 2011, the Innovation Fund grants are made possible this year through the generosity of Montgomery College Foundation donors.

Congratulations to the following award recipients:

  • COVID Research Empowers Students (CREST)
    Dr. Evdokia Kastanos and Dr. Michael Chase. Award amount: $29,700.00
    MC is uniquely positioned to play a critical role in protecting the health of community residents. This grant proposes to develop/pilot a system of wastewater surveillance on MC campuses for early detection of SARS CoV-2. This would monitor current infections and provide a preemptive window for allaying potential surges. Students will gain unique experiences in: 1) detection of future COVID-19 outbreaks or other infectious diseases, 2) collaboration with county and state health departments, and academic institutions to solve a global, public health crisis, 3) leverage of cross-discipline expertise in biology, biotechnology, and epidemiology, 4) undergraduate research, which is currently very limited. This project proposes a unique opportunity for students to engage in monitoring a global, public health crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic, in collaboration with state/county agencies. Students can participate in wastewater surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 by taking a biology/biotechnology course collegewide, receiving scholarships/stipends. This project will empower 30 students from demographic groups disproportionately hit by the pandemic to work towards reducing health disparities in their community.

  • The WDCE Adult ESOL and Basic Skills Mobile College & Career
    Carla Trimuel. Award amount: $16,200.00

    This grant proposal is to support Workforce Development Continuing Education ESOL students, especially immigrant adult learners, through the establishment of a mobile career center by providing Montgomery College students with the necessary resources to succeed in the classroom while effectively transitioning into the workforce. The mobile career center team will provide a variety of pop-up services such as language literacy assessments, career coaching, guidance and advising, and career readiness training in various neighborhoods heavily populated with this demographic of students. The mobile career center team seeks to increase student success by bringing the support and the resources to the neighborhoods of students who otherwise would not come to campus and increase the probability of these students succeeding. The pop-up mobile career center team will also engage over 500 potential students by providing them with information about Montgomery College, various Maryland Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (MIBEST) certification programs and credit classes which may increase the number of enrollments in MIBEST programs, credit classes and student’s successful transition into living wage employment.

  • Matters of the Mind and Money Colloquium: Retaining and Graduating Our Underrepresented Students at Montgomery College
    Antonette Jones and Professor Jose R. Medrano Award amount: $19,300.00

    The Matters of the Mind and Money Colloquium (MMMC) was established to help newly enrolled, underrepresented students with navigating through the challenging process of searching and applying for grants and scholarships to cover their college education. For seven weeks, 30 students will participate in a program with a curriculum that helps them identify the different college funding sources, provides a guide to legitimate scholarship resources, effective strategies on how to submit a strong scholarship application, learn the basic components of financial literacy, discuss successful steps to transfer planning, and demonstrate how to build a professional academic portfolio. This initiative's goal is to increase the enrollment, retention, graduation, and completion rates amongst newly enrolled students of color, specifically Hispanic and Black male students by teaching them how to navigate through various college funding resources.

Montgomery College Foundation Awards $100,000 through Innovation Fund Grants

The Montgomery College Foundation has awarded over $100,000 in Innovation Fund grants for 2021 to eight initiatives that address student success, equity, and completion. The eight were chosen from 24 proposals received. Created by Dr. Pollard in 2011, the Innovation Fund grants are made possible this year through the generosity of Montgomery College Foundation donors.

Congratulations to the following award recipients: 

  • MCRPA: Promoting Community, Service and Growth
    Christine Crefton. Award amount: $5,750.00

    The MC Rising Professionals Association (MCRPA) was established in 2011. MCRPA has enjoyed 10 years of continued growth while empowering MC employees to write their own career stories and to advance themselves into bright professional futures, without a budget. With more than 80 members representing all divisions, units, departments, disciplines, and programs of the college, MCRPA has the potential to become the first official employee resource group within the organization. There is no lack for talent, inspiration, or willingness to serve within MCRPA. A budget would allow for the next level of legitimacy and a freedom to include students in the important work of promoting community, service, and growth. It is time for MCRPA to innovate and evolve to take on the next 10 years.

  • Virtual Middle College: Exploring New Path to College Completion
    Akima H. Rogers. Award amount: $6,000.00

    This project will develop, market, recruit, and admit high school students into MC in an effort to increase access to educational opportunities through a Virtual Middle College degree program. The Office of Dual Enrollment, in partnership with Montgomery County Public Schools will coordinate with the academic departments offering the five online associate degrees and Achieving the Promise Academy (ATPA). Students throughout the county can now be supported through a progressive transition from a traditional high school experience to a college experience in a supportive remote environment without leaving their high school campus. Students will also receive online advising, tutoring, mentoring and other academic support towards their goal of simultaneously completing an associate degree while earning a high school diploma.

  • Educators Rising in Montgomery College 
    Brandon Wallace, Andrae Brown, Eric Benjamin, Angela Rhoe, and Akima Rogers. Award amount: $25,500.00

    This proposal seeks to increase African American male teachers in public schools because they make up only about two percent of the nation’s public school teacher workforce (Anderson, 2018). Researchers found that having one black teacher in elementary school not only makes children more likely to graduate high school, it makes them significantly more likely to enroll in college. Black students who experienced just having one black teacher by third grade were 13 percent more likely to enroll in college—and those who would had two were 32 percent more likely to pursue a college education (Gershenson et al., 2018).  This project leverages expertise across multiple disciplines, e.g., Academic Affairs, School of Education, Dual Enrollment, and notably Educator’s Rising, a subset of Phi Delta Kappa—one of the oldest professional education organizations in the country. Incepting a chapter of Educator’s Rising would make Montgomery College the first and only community college with a chapter of Educator’s Rising in the world. The innovative solution of capitalizing Educator’s Rising’s resources, curricula, network, etc., will be an invaluable addition to this initiative.

  • Writing Learning Centers: Writing Groups for Student Success
    Lucinda Grinnell, Tanya Camp, Elysse Meredith, Angela Rhoe, Brandon Wallace, and Charles Washington. Award amount: $19,150.00

    This project will support, develop, and maintain affinity-focused and social justice-oriented writing groups for students. These remote and Hyflex writing groups, sponsored by the Writing, Reading, and Language Centers, support student success as well as PACEI goals of increasing the persistence and retention rates of all students, particularly Black male and Latinx students. In partnership with the Office of Academic Alliances, participants will learn about opportunities for seamless transfer and make informed steps towards transfer. Advancing practices of radical inclusion at the college, we will provide student-centered writing groups college-wide aimed for Black, Latinx, LGBTQ+, Asian, and older students. Students will have the opportunity to participate in a remote or Hyflex writing group to improve reading comprehension and written expression (in English and other languages), as well as make connections between writing and their identities. Hyflex rooms would be used upon return to campus in order to include as many students as possible.

  • Bridging the Urban/Rural Divide: Using Remote Technologies to Create a Collaborative Civic Engagement Program at MC and HCC
    Jennifer Haydel. Award amount: $5,300.00

    This collaborative program leverages remote learning to engage students in constructive conversations, problem analysis, and community engagement across county lines. Fall 2021 will be a pilot program that works with Urban Rural Action to bring together one Montgomery College Political Science course and one Hagerstown Community College Sociology course around the theme of food insecurity. This pilot program will also provide student engagement opportunities through collaboration with HCC and MC Student Life offices and with Hagerstown Community College’s Political Science Club. The program’s long-term goal is to institutionalize paired course offerings each year and to expand related Student Life activities.

  • Social Justice Ambassadors Program: A Faculty and Student Partnership to Decolonize the Curriculum
    Kimberly Jones, Shinta Hernandez, Angela Lanier, Paul Miller, Ladan Rahnema, and Katya Salmi. Award amount: $9,200.00

    The Social Justice Ambassadors Program is a student-centered opportunity informed by participatory action research with youth that brings together students and faculty mentors to learn about decolonizing higher education and co-create materials to support an inclusive curriculum at Montgomery College. This work falls within the institutional goals of equity, diversity, and antiracism. All materials created will be openly licensed and available in an online repository (e.g., ELITE’s Hub and Maryland Open-Source Textbook Initiative’s M.O.S.T. Commons) for other faculty and instructional support staff to access and utilize freely to expand the work on decolonizing higher education at the college.

  • Inspiring Science in a Remote Environment: Using film and a virtual planetarium to spark enthusiasm! 
    Carrie Fitzgerald. Award amount: $19,000.00

    We are seeking students to participate in a project with the goal of developing a short film on the science subject of their choice. At the end of the project, students will present their work at a public online film festival (our virtual planetarium). Exceptional films will be entered into national collegiate competitions. Students selected for project will research, develop, and produce a professional quality short film. Although the focus will be on astronomy, geology, and meteorology, we will emphasize a synthesis of multiple disciplines. Students will be encouraged to create a narrative that includes historical and social perspectives. Training will also be accomplished via participation in the Spitz Summer Institute, a highly-regarded workshop on planetarium production, video editing, and audio editing. The project will end with a public, virtual film festival. We will award student films in different categories, and submit winners to national collegiate film competitions including The American Conservation Film Festival and The One Earth Film Festival.

  • Online Transfer Academy: Preparing Students for Life-Long Success. 
    Rebecca Razavi, Angela Rhoe, and Elizabeth Kirby. Award amount: $17,300.00

    The Transfer Academy will support up to 50 students in five 3-hour online sessions designed to provide critical information (transfer student capital) and build the psychosocial resilience they will need to be successful in their 3 Transfer Academy transfer to a four-year institution. Sessions will be led with a team approach, utilizing the experience, expertise, and technical support of the project team as well as part-time faculty, pre-transfer counselors, alumni, and guest speakers as appropriate. Students who complete the program will have the opportunity to submit a digital transfer plan as the final requirement for a digital badge recognizing their increased resiliency and transfer student capital.

Montgomery College Foundation Awards $36,000 through Innovation Fund Grants

The Montgomery College Foundation has awarded $36,000 in Innovation Fund grants for 2020 to four initiatives that address student success, equity, and completion. The four were chosen from 10 proposals received. Created by Dr. Pollard in 2011, the Innovation Fund grants are made possible this year through the generosity of Montgomery College Foundation donors.

Congratulations to the following award recipients: 

  • Mi Gente: Moving Ahead in Business.
    Susan Blumen & Karen Penn de Martinez. Award amount: $8,025.

    This project will consist of two parts and will support two projects in the new BSAD101 / CMAP120 Mi Gente: Moving Ahead in Business Learning Community. The focus will be on academic and professional success for LatinX and other under-represented communities. It will provide scholarships for computer-related internships, enabling students to gain professional experience, thereby increasing their social capital and soft skills. For students who cannot participate in an internship due to family or work obligations, the grant will provide seed money for an alternative social-entrepreneurship business plan that can be implemented during more flexible hours, in small teams, to raise money for a relevant charity.

  • Literary and Visual Arts Anthology by Students with Disabilities. Monica Mische. Award amount: $3,000.

    This project will provide opportunities for students with disabilities to produce work that holds deep personal meaning and to showcase their creative talents. It will raise awareness of the students’ experiences and accomplishments; challenge misperceptions about disability; and further the 
    College’s mission of providing equity and inclusion for all. Although Montgomery College produces three student literary magazines (one for each campus), there is no publication that focuses specifically on students with disabilities. This is notable because although students with disabilities are always welcome to submit work to our current publications, many of these students require sustained encouragement and coaching. This sustained coaching and encouragement is something that this project will uniquely provide.

  • From Level One to Level Two: Broadening the Impact of Montgomery College’s Digital Storytelling Internship.
    Sara Bachman Ducey, Jamie Gillan, and Matthew Decker. Award amount: $15,550.

    Supported by the Paul Peck Humanities Institute, this project will continue to expand and support the digital storytelling pedagogy at Montgomery College. The goal is to solidify a thriving internship model designed to support digital storytelling instruction in courses across the disciplines at Montgomery College. The program first began in 2019 with a summer program for selected faculty and students interested in digital storytelling to explore technology, pedagogy and the internship program design. Twelve students represented Germantown, Rockville, and Takoma Park/Silver Spring campuses. They participated in a rigorous internship experience designed around three branches: Development/Training, Service and Support, and Leadership, and 70% of that work pivoted on service to the College community. They attended biweekly professional development seminars, offered Humanities Days presentations, supported faculty and students in their classrooms as well as the Digital Learning Centers, organized final showcases of their work, and more.  In addition to continuing the basic structure of level one—the semester-long internship, which pivots on each intern’s 80 hours of service to the college community, special projects will be established for Level Two interns—alumni of previous semester internship cohorts. These include embedded support in classes or offices, liaising with UMBC, ePortfolio construction, Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access projects, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) projects, and Digital Storytelling Assessment Research.  Enrolled students will be introduced to transferable skills and technology employable in any class and will be prepared for modern entry-level positions in a variety of careers.

  • Social Justice Leadership Institute.
    Jeanette Rojas. Award amount: $9,425.

    This project will recruit and provide first-generation college students and students of color with the tools needed to persist and advocate for themselves. Through a collaborative effort between the Office of Equity and Inclusion, Peer2Peer, and the Office of Student Life, students will engage with community and college leaders in an intense two-week social justice institute. This experience will prepare them to be effective advocates in their communities and members of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Equity and Inclusion (PACEI). The goal is to improve persistence, retention, and completion/graduation/transfer of all students, particularly African-American male and LatinX students. Students will receive a stipend of $500 for attending the meetings/trainings. This stipend can be used for traveling purposes, food, supplemental workshop materials, etc.  

Montgomery College Foundation Awards $44,000 through Innovation Fund Grants

The Montgomery College Foundation has awarded $44,000 in Innovation Fund grants for 2019–2020 to four initiatives that address student success, equity, and completion. The four were chosen from 17 proposals received.

Created by Dr. Pollard in 2011, the Innovation Fund grants are made possible this year through the generosity of Montgomery College Foundation donors.

Congratulations to the following award recipients:

Digital Storytelling: From Community of Practice to Pedagogical Innovation & On-Campus Internship Program.
Jamie Gillan, Sara Ducey, and Matthew Decker. Award amount: $20,100.

Supported by the Paul Peck Humanities Institute, this project will expand and support the burgeoning community of practice in digital storytelling at Montgomery College. Beginning with a summer program for selected faculty and students interested in digital storytelling to explore technology, pedagogy (with expert support), and the internship program design, six participating faculty members from any discipline will design a digital storytelling assignment to implement in the fall. Eligible students from those six courses will be encouraged to apply for the digital storytelling internship program. These students will develop digital technology capacities and other soft skills and will participate in a tour of University of Maryland Baltimore County, which has a vibrant digital storytelling program and New Media lab. The expectation is for the program to expand to 12 sections in the spring 2020 semester, impacting approximately 300 students per semester. Enrolled students will be introduced to transferable skills and technology employable in any class and be prepared for modern entry-level positions in a variety of careers.

Let’s Build a House.
Ali Fadl, George Payne, Ed Roberts, Chantal Vilmar, Shorieh Talaat, and Mario Parcan. Award amount: $10,000.

Applied Technologies students and others will collaborate to design, build, and sell a tiny house on wheels. This house will feature the latest in sustainable and green design concepts, and it will be a livable and marketable product. By participating, students will gain valuable practical, real-world experience that will help them succeed after graduation. Selling the house makes the program fully self-funding after the first year, thus providing MC students with the same opportunity year after year.

MoCo Connects: Student, Near-Peer, and Career Networking.
Cinder Cooper Barnes and Tammy Peery. Award amount: $9,500.

General Education faculty, recent MC alumni, employers, and other campus stakeholders will provide students with opportunities to develop, foster, and showcase the skills they learn in the Gen-Ed courses outside of class. The General Education Standing Committee will offer a three-prong program that includes an opening mini-conference to connect approximately 45-90 students with near-peers and career professionals; mentorship between near-peers/professionals and students; and a presentation/closing conference showcasing student learning.

Professional Identity Formation through STEM Service Learning.
Monica Mellini. Award amount: $4,400.

This project will recruit and train a cohort of Montgomery College STEM students to perform STEM-related activities in the community. Teams of two student volunteers (approximately 12 students in total) will lead a small project to deploy an “Internet of Things” weather station at a community site as part of a K–12 class or extracurricular activity. Both MC and MCPS students will benefit during the course of the project, and the host sites may choose to continue to interact with the weather station and data for years after the service learning activity is completed.

Montgomery College Foundation Awards More Than $180,000 through Innovation Fund Grants 2018-2019

The Montgomery College Foundation has awarded $180,884 in Innovation Fund grants for 2018–2019 to six initiatives that address student success, equity, and completion. The six were chosen from 39 proposals received. Created by Dr. Pollard in 2011, the Innovation Fund is made possible this year through the generosity of her Carnegie Corporation Academic Leadership Award. Congratulations to the following award recipients:

Acceleration to Graduation
Elena Saenz, associate senior vice president of Academic Affairs, and Ja’Bette Lozupone, director of Achieving the Promise Initiatives.) Award amount: $100,000.

Academic Affairs (AA) will identify up to 1,000 students who have 45-plus credits and self-identify as having a barrier(s) to graduation. AA will survey students from disciplines with the greatest number of students who have 45-plus credits but have not graduated. The selected disciplines are those where the need for qualified graduates in the marketplace is high, such as computer science and cybersecurity. Once the survey is completed, a team will be convened to develop a personalized graduation plan for each student to accelerate their progress to completion.

Ultimate Flexibility and Access with HyFlex Courses
Glenda Hernandez Tittle, professor, Education Department, and Herbert E. “Buddy” Muse, program manager, ELITE. Award amount: $33,850.

HyFlex courses are designed to provide students with ultimate flexibility in how they access courses: face-to-face, online synchronous, online asynchronous or in a combination of any of the three preferred at any time throughout the semester. Institutions that have introduced HyFlex courses have found that these courses are effective in yielding higher student success, including better retention and completion rates.

Lessons Learned: Building a Culture of Evidence at Pierce College, and ATD Leader School
 John Hamman, dean of mathematics and statistics, and Bess Vincent, assistant administrative dean. Award amount: $18,200.

After joining Achieving the Dream (ATD), Montgomery College adopted a student success vision prioritizing comprehensive scheduling, comprehensive advising, guided pathways, and a Start Smart enrollment process. These endeavors require data-driven decision-making. An MC team will visit Pierce to learn how they have engaged faculty and staff in a culture of evidence intended to re-engineer student experiences to maximize retention and to reduce developmental math and English sequences.

Exploring Careers Through Service
Lucy Vitaliti, service-learning coordinator, Takoma Park/Silver Spring Campus, and Nik Sushka, service-learning coordinator, Rockville Campus. Award amount: $16,784.

The Service-Learning Program will host five career-focused service-learning exploration days during winter and spring break. In partnership with the Academic Affairs and Student Affairs departments and diverse, high-demand industries, the program will engage 200 MC students in relevant, hands-on service learning projects in career fields that serve the greater community with career-focused guest speakers, post-project reflection activities, and exploration of internship and job opportunities.

Interdisciplinary Humanities Innovations Labs (IHIL)
Leah Sneider, associate professor of English and gender studies. Award amount: $6,050.

The Interdisciplinary Humanities Innovations Labs involves a series of lab sessions focused on interdisciplinary, practical, hands-on/experiential applications of humanities themes or concepts intended to deepen experiences, exchange in interdisciplinary dialogue and learning, and develop interest in humanities courses.

Math Placement Project
Bess Vincent, assistant administrative dean, and John Hamman, dean of mathematics and statistics. Award amount: $6,000.

MC has partnered with 11 Maryland colleges and universities to participate in a William Kirwan Center for Academic Innovation Project funded by the Kresge Foundation to pilot the efficacy and feasibility of replacing the current mathematics placement exam process with one that empowers students to assess and remediate their knowledge using adaptive learning. Innovation funding will expand this pilot to 900 students.

Increasing Student Success in Elementary Spanish I (SPAN101)
The award amount was $19,900.

Students enrolled in SPAN 101 often face challenges that impede their ability to successfully complete the course. Key faculty members from the three campuses will coordinate efforts both in and out of the classroom to increase student success.

Academic Inclusion Networks: An Innovative Project Designed to Identify and Support Students in Three Entry-Level Major Courses
The award amount was $11,800.

Using Academic Inclusion Networks, struggling students in identified entry, major-level courses with significant DFW (drop, fail, withdrawal) rates will receive contact and repeated follow-up interaction in an effort to promote successful completion of the major-level course. It is estimated that more than 500 students per semester will directly benefit from this project.

MC Genius Quiz Show
Proposal submitted by the Rockville Campus African Student Association. The award amount awarded was $7,450.

The show is intended to be an award-winning, single-elimination academic team competition for all students of Montgomery College. The MC Genius Quiz show is a “Battle of the Brains” competition intended to cultivate the spirit of genius, thereby allowing MC students to practice their research skills.

The Holy Cross Health Fund Grants offer up to $100,000.

The deadline for applications is in March.