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University of New Orleans Awarded $50K Grant to Advance 21st Century Skills Development Through University-Community Partnerships

NEW ORLEANS — The University of New Orleans has received a $50,000 grant from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and Coalition of Urban Serving Universities to further its partnerships with local community organizations and businesses aimed at providing students with the skills they’ll need to successfully enter the workforce upon graduation.

“Despite the advances in technology accessibility, the information literacy gap has widened even more in recent years,” said Mahyar Amouzegar, UNO’s provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “We are excited to gain the support of APLU and our industry partners to create a program that helps to educate and train a more information literate workforce.”

The University of New Orleans is partnering with GNO, Inc., to cultivate relationships with local industry leaders and gather their input on an information literacy curriculum and a digital badge that will be offered to all of UNO’s undergraduate students. Through a UNO Information Literacy Summer Institute, UNO faculty will receive in-depth, expert training on information literacy, participate in course development workshops, and be paired with appropriate partner organizations that will host experiential learning projects that operationalize information literacy skills.

“Information literacy develops the soft skills to integrate, apply and communicate information from a variety of fields to different audiences,” said Ryan Bell, UNO’s director of experiential learning and community engagement. “These skills are immensely helpful to a student working toward a college degree and after graduation when they are looking to establish and grow a career.”

All projects in the Collaborative Opportunity Grant program must center on a collaboration between a public university and an external organization such as another university, community colleges, school districts, businesses or local governments. This set of grants are designed to support emerging and/or innovative university-community partnerships that transform university practices, programs, policies and culture to improve 21st-century skills curricula and transferability to the workforce. The initiatives are targeted at supporting low-income, first-time in college students.

The University of Memphis and Cal State LA also received grants. The three institutions awarded grants have existing efforts focused on charting 21st-century pathway partnerships. Each institution will receive $50,000 to collaborate, accelerate and improve implementation of the efforts. The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation supports the work.

“We know the pandemic has only accelerated demand for 21st-century skills,” said Christel Perkins, deputy executive director of the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities and assistant vice president at APLU. “We’re excited to support three institutions with leading-edge efforts to pilot and scale efforts to create stronger pathways between college coursework and career pathways.”