College of the Redwoods


Cal Poly Humboldt

College Matters | CR looks to grants to fill funding gaps

This article was originally posted in the College Matters column of the Times-Standard.

Thursday, January 25, 2024 - 1:15pm

As you may have heard, the state of California is facing significant budget challenges. We can expect a 6% decrease in the total 2024-25 budget compared to the previous year, totaling $219.5 billion. General Fund spending, which finances education, is expected to decrease by almost 8%, amounting to a reduction of over $17 billion. This means that California’s budget difficulties may negatively impact the funding College of the Redwoods receives from the state for our general operations.

Our local nonprofit organizations have long recognized that grants are important supplemental revenue sources for their operations. Grants not only help to offset administrative costs but also allow them to deliver services to people who may not be able to afford them otherwise. Taking a page from our nonprofit colleagues, the Board of Trustees and I realize that we must diversify our funding base and rely less on the state.

For College of the Redwoods, this means actively pursuing grants that will allow us to invest in our institution, support the expansion of critical programs and infrastructure, and ensure a revenue stream consistent with previous years, even as our state allocations face constraints.

Over the past few years, our strategic focus has shifted to include efforts to secure grants, often in collaboration with key partners such as Cal Poly Humboldt, K-12 institutions, and tribal entities.

I am happy to report that these efforts have paid off. Last year, we were awarded $4.9 million in grants. Among our successful applications was $75,000 from the Vesper Society to support clinical placement of social work/human services students in Native American-serving agencies, almost $100,000 from the National Science Foundation to enhance research collaborations between community colleges and the CSUs and UCs, $936,000 from the Foundation for California Community Colleges to support dual enrollment and transfer pathways in health care and education, and $256,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to support our construction technology program to develop competencies in the use of hemp-based building materials.

Additionally, we secured several important grants from our Chancellor’s Office that will help us meet initiatives in our Education Master Plan. We secured $300,000 to assist our faculty in creating culturally responsive curriculum and pedagogical practices, $182,000 to expand the capacity of our RN/LVN skills labs on the Eureka and Del Norte campuses, $1.5 million to develop local Native American student support and success programs, and $188,000 to support dual enrollment, recruitment, and retention in aquaculture.

We were also awarded $1.55 million to build on the knowledge we’ve gained providing instruction to incarcerated adults over the past 15 years and begin to bring educational services to justice-impacted youth in our community.

In addition to the grants we have already secured, we are actively seeking additional funding in partnership with Cal Poly Humboldt and the Workforce Investment Board on several grant projects supported by agencies such as the Department of Justice, the Foundation for California Community Colleges (FoundationCCC), and the California Community College Chancellor’s Office.

We are working with the Southwestern Oregon Workforce Investment Board (SOWIB) and the FoundationCCC on a project that will support our initiative aimed at recruiting underrepresented students —including Native American, first generation, and female students — into high-paying fields represented in our Career Education programs. These potential funds will increase the capacity of workforce development programs to support both existing and emerging industries in our region including aquaculture, electrical, welding, construction, remote sensing and geographic information systems, and nursing and allied health care. A concentration in offshore wind, including the development of a brand-new course of study in wind turbine technology, will contribute to the growth and development of this important industry in our region.

Thanks to the leadership of CR’s Board of Trustees, we will continue to allocate resources toward obtaining additional grants and working with our education and community partners to acquire funding that will allow all boats to rise. I believe that the grants I mentioned in this article will make a positive contribution to our operations and our region and demonstrate our commitment to offsetting budget deficits and decreasing our reliance on state tax dollars.

Dr. Keith Flamer is the president of the College of the Redwoods.