In light of Governor Newsom’s historic $115M investment in Zero Textbook Cost (ZTC) degrees throughout the California Community College (CCC) system, this Michelson Spark Grant cycle focused in part on supporting capacity building throughout the CCCs to multiply the impact of that investment. Governor Newsom was right when he called out the “usurious and outrageous” behavior of the textbook marketplace. As part of this Spark Grant funding cycle, Michelson 20MM aimed to support organizations and projects looking to create a more equitable course material landscape because students and educators deserve better. 

As the California postsecondary educational system implements ZTC programming, they also need to enhance technological capabilities, research, and the skills of faculty and staff in order to impactfully execute the program. In support of this, we are proud to award a Michelson Spark Grant to the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U). Over the next year, AAC&U will work with teams from five of California’s Community Colleges, including prior Spark Grantee Compton College, during AAC&U’s Institute on Open Educational Resources (IOER), which is designed to support the development of open educational resources (OER) programs. 

Via IOER, AAC&U, in partnership with OpenStax and the Institute for the Study on Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME), will provide mentorship, training, and strategies for faculty, staff, and administrators to increase campus engagement around OER. Ultimately, IOER will provide an opportunity for the five campuses to develop and actualize their OER adoption plans. To do so, each campus will be assigned to a national OER expert as their mentor, who will help them overcome any obstacles and identify opportunities for further engagement. 

After the year-long program, AAC&U will share IOER’s learnings and experiences at conferences and educational gatherings. We look forward to sharing more details and celebrating the accomplishments of IOER in the year ahead!

As AAC&U shared, IOER “is designed for any campus, system, or consortium aspiring to launch or expand initiatives to develop and leverage free and affordable materials in teaching and learning contexts.” If you are interested in learning more, contact Dr. C. Edward Watson at

Michelson 20MM is a private, nonprofit foundation seeking to accelerate progress towards a more just world through grantmaking, operating programs, and impact investing. Co-chaired and funded by Alya and Gary Michelson, Michelson 20MM is part of the Michelson Philanthropies network of foundations.

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