University of Minnesota Rochester Wins $250,000 Innovation Grant In First Phase Of Strada Education Network’s Beyond Completion Challenge

Authored By: dies0044 01/19/2022

Supported through a grant from Strada in partnership with the Taskforce on Higher Education and Opportunity, University of Minnesota Rochester joins 14 other institutions in the $10 million challenge to improve students’ careers and lives

The University of Minnesota Rochester today announced it has received a $250,000 innovation grant in the initial phase of Strada Education Network’s $10 million Beyond Completion Challenge aimed at helping higher education institutions identify and expand new solutions that will improve career and life opportunities for more students of color, first-generation students, those who struggle to afford education, and adult students and workers.

"The University of Minnesota is thrilled by Strada’s generous commitment to NXT GEN MED and the cutting-edge program’s core commitment to lowering student cost while increasing quality and equity in health care,” said University President Joan Gabel. “Together with Strada, and our partners at Google and Mayo Clinic, we look forward to advancing greater opportunity and impact for inquisitive students seeking both a guaranteed career path and a way to make a difference in solving the world’s greatest health challenges."

“The Rochester campus of the University of Minnesota is so grateful for Strada’s investment in NXT GEN MED. Together, we’re creating a prototype — a new way to do college that will cost students less and launch their careers sooner,” said University of Minnesota Rochester Chancellor Lori Carrell. “Here’s a big “shout out” to Strada, the UMR faculty designers, our partners at Google and Mayo Clinic and the whole NXT GEN MED team, innovating for equity during this disruptive era.” 

The grant will support the University of Minnesota’s efforts to launch and assess the accelerated, career focused NXT GEN MED program set to begin serving students in August 2022. Trailblazing NXT GEN MED students will earn an undergraduate degree in health sciences. During their accelerated college education, each student will engage in a paid internship at Mayo Clinic in the business and leadership of healthcare career Pathway. Students will also develop key career competencies documented in a portfolio for future employers. Students in this prototype program will attend college year-round for 2 ½ years, accelerating their entry into high demand healthcare industry careers. The high-tech Platform to support this program has been co-developed with Google Cloud. The academic program has been designed by the University of Minnesota Rochester’s innovative faculty. 

The pilot cohort of NXT GEN MED will be limited to 48 students. If you know a prospective student you think may have the right stuff to do college differently, nominate them for selection to participate in Experience NXT GEN MED - set for March 24.  

Strada is partnering with the Taskforce on Higher Education and Opportunity for the Beyond Completion Challenge to reimagine higher education to better serve students’ needs. Strada launched the grant challenge with the understanding that students need an educational experience that connects learning with employment so that all students can secure a good job, do meaningful work, and lead a fulfilling life. 

Each participating institution will develop an initiative on their campus or in collaboration with other organizations, including industry partners, to foster a more effective higher education experience.

The 15 institutions selected to receive innovation grants of up to $250,000 are:

  1. Arizona State University
  2. City University of New York
  3. Georgia State University
  4. Georgia Institute of Technology
  5. New York University
  6. North Carolina A&T State University
  7. Northern Virginia Community College
  8. Southern New Hampshire University
  9. University of Arizona
  10. University of Minnesota Rochester
  11. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  12. University of Oregon
  13. University of Pittsburgh
  14. University of Texas System
  15. Virginia Tech

The grants announced today will support new projects and initiatives that focus on equitable outcomes through and beyond college completion. Strada will provide more than $6 million in additional support later this year to expand upon these grants and will engage in a year-long community of practice with grant recipients and other members of the Taskforce working to improve outcomes beyond completion.

In Phase One, grants were awarded to 15 institutions to support curricular, career guidance and support, and technology innovations. Funded initiatives fall into four categories:

●  Infusing career relevance into the curriculum.

●  Developing strategies to expand career support.

●  Strengthening connections between education and career.

●  Building institutional capacity to improve career outcomes.

Learn more about the innovation grant recipients and their projects here.

“As we recover from a worldwide pandemic, we understand that our economy and our education system are changing dramatically,” said Strada’s Ruth Watkins. “We must shift our focus beyond completion of credentials and degrees. The Beyond Completion Challenge was designed not just to come up with new ideas for how to achieve that goal, but to put resources behind them so that more students can benefit. We were delighted with the quality of the proposals and are thrilled to support this terrific work.”

In the coming months, all members of the Taskforce will be invited to join the innovation grant recipients in a community of practice to share information and learn what’s working to help students succeed beyond completion.

Later this year, the institutions that are awarded support in Phase One, as well as other Taskforce members, will be invited to compete for additional funding to expand their work. The emphasis in Phase Two will be to reach larger numbers of students or to partner with other institutions or industries to significantly share and expand effective practices.

Learn more about the Taskforce’s work and Strada’s Beyond Completion Challenge here.

The Taskforce provides new opportunities to collaborate, share insights, and scale impact across the higher education ecosystem. Learn more at