Innovation Works

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

Created by President DeRionne Pollard, and made possible  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.

Dr. Pollard laughing

Working together we are:

Raising Awareness about the need for opportunities and innovation,

Fostering critical conversations about the big issues and questions facing education today,

Engaging faculty, staff, students, and the community in the mission of Montgomery College,

Supporting the advancement of the institution by providing intellectual and physical resources to spur innovation,

Creating safe spaces for faculty, staff, students, and the community to engage with new ideas,

Celebrating innovation already taking place,

Enhancing the institution's capacity for vision, agility, innovation, and creativity.



President's Innovation Forum 

Dr. DeRionne Pollard hosts discussions highlighting innovation in higher education.

Neuroscience and Learning in Higher Education

Dr. Steve Joordens - Professor of Psychology, Director of the Advanced Learning Technolog Lab, University of Toronto; and a leader in the field of memory and attention.

Mr. Javier Arguello- Founder and Executive Director of COGx, with expertise in modernizing education, cognition, and learning; former Montgomery College student.


Technology in Higher Education


Dr. MJ Bishop, Director of the Center for Academic Innovation, University System of Maryland


Leaders in Innovation

Moderator:  Chief Innovation Officer of Montgomery County

Dr. MJ Bishop, Director of the Center for Academic Innovation, University System of Maryland
Dr. Shelli Fowler, Senior Director of Networked Pedagogies and Professional Development at Virginia Tech University


Dan Hoffman, Chief Innovation Officer, Montgomery County 
Ronnie Galvin, Former Executive Director of IMPACT Silver Spring 
Dr. DeRionne Pollard, President of Montgomery College


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

Creating and Strengthening Successful Academic Pathways for Student Retention and Student Success.

The Innovation Fund has up to $36,000 for projects that foster initiatives to create academic pathways within disciplines and/or programs, across student affairs and academic affairs, and/or provide bridges
from non-credit to credit academic programming. The grant is created by President DeRionne Pollard and made possible this year through the generosity of Montgomery College Foundation donors.

Projects that align with the early college experience and that have direct linkage to the student success scorecard, social justice, equity and inclusion, and closing the achievement gap for underrepresented students are ideal initiatives for this grant. 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. Faculty, staff, administrators, and students are eligible to submit proposals. Students desiring to participate are required to partner with a faculty or staff member to submit an application.

The deadline is March 23, 2020.


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

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

MC Foundation Innovation Grants Information Videonew window

Abstracts From Previous Years

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 Baca, 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.