2017-2018 Student Engagement, Retention, and Success Grant

Grant Focus

SERS grant funds are designed to support new and existing campus services or programs that

  • serve underrepresented or other targeted student populations - including, but not limited to, underrepresented minorities, the economically disadvantaged, non-traditional students, and individuals with disabilities;
  • have the potential to significantly increase and/or impact educational attainment or diversity initiatives at the institution; and produce outcomes that correspond to the goals of the TBR or Institution Completion Goal, institution's diversity plan, Drive to 55/Complete College TN Act, and/or the Access to Success initiative.

The focus of programs in this category should be the achievement of measurable improvement in the engagement, retention and success of identified categories of students (see eligibility requirements below).

Two project types will be considered for funding in this category:

  • new program projects (Pilot Program), and
  • existing program projects (Program Enhancement).

Grants are designed to provide short-term funds to augment campus funding (non-A&D funding) for campus services or programs – not to substitute for ongoing funding from the institution.


Single institution proposals from TBR colleges and TBR locally governed institutions (LGI) are eligible for consideration. 

Collaborative proposals between TBR colleges and other entities (educational institution, LEA, agency, community group, etc.) are eligible for consideration.

Collaborative proposals between TBR LGI and TBR colleges are eligible for consideration

Collaborative grant proposals require that each partnering entity provide a letter of commitment to the project from a senior administrator of the organization. The TBR institution submitting the application must serve as the fiscal partner in the event the project is funded.

Ineligible costs include:

  • Purchase of equipment or software that does not primarily benefit current year program participants.
  • Speaker fees or honorariums, unless such fees are part of a broader workshop/seminar or training program.
  • Scholarships and tuition costs.
  • Unless specifically authorized in the grant award notice, funds may not be used as a means to supplement or fund additional campus personnel.

Funding Levels:

Program Type                         Maximum Funding

Program Enhancement            $25,000             

Pilot Program                               $15,000

Priority Categories and Preferences:

A. Collaborative Proposal:

In the case of similar project proposals, funding preference will be given to collaborative grant proposals.

B. High Impact Practices

HIP Focus Areas identified as part of TBR's High Impact Practice Initiative as of December 2016: ePortoflios; service-learning; certifications; undergraduate research; learning communities; work-based learning; first-year seminars/experience; honors programs; study abroad; technology-enhanced learning

  1. HIP Focus: priority funding for institutions who have completed a self-study of the particular HIP (using the taxonomies that have been developed by TBR or other assessment), can use the self-assessment data to clearly identify next steps for scaling that particular HIP at the institution, and can articulate how funds will be used to implement the plan for scaling the practice
  2. Internationalization of the Curriculum: funding for institutional projects that articulate a campus plan for scaling international education throughout the curriculum

Requirements for HIP Priority funding:

  1. Must demonstrate use of self-study data of the particular HIP to identify areas for growth
  2. Must demonstrate a campus-wide commitment to grow the HIP
  3. Must illustrate how the SERS funds will help with the implementation of a campus plan to grow the HIP
  4. Must identify specific measures to be accomplished at the end of the grant cycle
  5. Awardees must present their final data/accomplishments/challenges at a statewide TBR conference and have a summary of their project linked to the TBR website
  6. Awardees are required to participate in system-wide HIP trainings and a grantee learning community during the course of the grant year.

Submission Requirements

  • All questions in the attached Grant Proposal Narrative must be addressed.
  • A campus may submit a maximum of 5 (five) applications. Individuals can serve as the project director for only one awarded grant in a given year.
  • Signed proposals must be submitted electronically to completionsupport@tbr.edu with the subject line:  Fall 2017 SERS Grant
  • The timeline for the proposal review and implementation process is:
    • February 24, 2017 Proposal submission
    • March 2017 Proposals selected by committee
    • July 1, 2017 Grant period begins
    • February 2, 2018 Mid-term report due
    • June 30, 2018 Grant period ends
    • August 31, 2018 End of project report due
  • All proposed applications that are race or gender specific or that consider race or gender when determining eligibility for participation are required to undergo legal review and submission approval by either the institution’s legal counsel or by TBR’s Office of General Counsel (OGC).  This must occur before the application is submitted to the Office of Effectiveness and Strategic Initiatives. In order to allow ample time for legal review from the OGC campuses should establish an internal review deadline. Special instructions for institutions using TBR OGC Services:
    • All applications to be reviewed by the OGC must be submitted to the OGC office by close of business on January 20, 2017. This early submission date will allow TBR OGC time to review and make suggestions regarding any possible compliance concerns before the final due date.
    • All proposed applications must be sent by email to the appropriate campus attorney on the OGC staff. The subject line of the email should read: “SERS Grant Legal Review. Applications submitted to the OGC for review do not need to include a completed budget.

Awards and Notifications

Award decisions will be communicated to applicants and institution officials by end of March 2017. Notifications will be simultaneously sent to the Project Director, Diversity Contact and President/Director of each institution. This will be followed by a Letter of Understanding (LOU) that must be signed by the institution. The institution should take steps to ensure that other required project funding is available prior to signing and returning the LOU. The Letter of Understanding requires that the project be implemented as proposed.  Upon receipt of the signed LOU the funding payment schedule will be as follows:

1/3 of the grant total will be paid after July 1, 2017;

1/3 of the project costs will be paid upon receipt of the February 2, 2018 mid-term project report;

Costs for remaining actual expenditures will be reimbursed after receipt of the August 4, 2018 final report.

Post-Award Requirements

Application revisions:  Any proposed major change(s) to the scope of services or personnel must be submitted in writing to completionsupport@tbr.edu  for approval.

Budget revisions:  Any budget reallocations between line items that exceed 10% of the total budget or $1,000.00 (whichever is greatest) require prior, written approval. All budget reallocations must be approved prior to June 30, 2018. Requests for budget reallocation approval should be submitted to completionsupport@tbr.edu.

Reallocations of less than 10% or $1,000.00 (whichever is greatest) may be made at the discretion of the institution.

Extensions:  We typically do not approve requests for extensions that would cause the grant period to extend beyond the fiscal year.  Any requests for extensions must be submitted in writing to completionsupport@tbr.edu no later April 28, 2018. The request must include a justification of the need for such an extension and have documentation of approval from the Director or President.

Final Report: A narrative or end of project report including a report of final expenditures and project outcomes must be submitted to completionsupport@tbr.edu by September 1, 2018. All reports must be submitted by the due date.  Information about the content and format of this report will be included with the award notification letters. Final payment of grant funds will not be transmitted prior to submission of the final report.

Non-compliance with any post-award requirements may result in denial of future grant applications.

Application Submission

Proposal submission deadline was February 24, 2017.