Over a decade ago, the Michelson 20MM Foundation was launched after our founder, Dr. Gary K. Michelson, read a news article about qualified community college students dropping out due to the cost of textbooks. After providing immediate help, Dr. Michelson’s vision then moved towards addressing the issue at scale. The subsequent $1.5 million grant to OpenStax created the world’s first commercial grade, openly licensed college textbooks available to students at zero cost and sparked a commitment to promoting programs and policies that advance the proliferation and adoption of open educational resources (OER).

Our OER vision is to improve the affordability of instructional materials, efficacy of faculty instruction, and equitable access to educational opportunities. We are proud to further the vision through our 2023 OER Spark Grants funding cycle, which provides just-in-time funding up to $25,000 in support of projects that impact California and advance the following focus areas:

  • Support the implementation of California’s historic investment in the Zero-Textbook-Cost (ZTC) degree program in the California Community College (CCC) system;
    • Focusing on capacity building, professional development, and scaling OER marketing
  • Research on how OER impacts student outcomes for marginalized groups (BIPOC, student parents, unhoused students, tribal communities, etc.)
    • Particularly research that focuses on how OER impacts the decisions students make, how it impacts their completion rates and grades, and how it impacts their lives outside of school
  • Research and public education around automatic textbook billing, with a focus on student experience and consumer protections
    • Research on prevalence and types of automatic textbook billing that is occurring within the three California public higher education systems
    • Policymakers at the system, state, and federal levels often have outdated understandings of the course materials landscape. Public education is required to bring them up to speed on the current landscape and the impact it has on today’s students
  • Research around student data protections in the instructional materials marketplace
    • Specifically taking a consumer protection or policy analysis lens to examine the emerging risks and extent of student data use in digital course materials necessary to participate in courses

In order to determine if proposed projects have the potential to further the above focus areas at scale while centering the needs of students, we have enlisted the help of an undergraduate student and three OER champions. Please join us in welcoming our Spark Community Advisors, who will share their unique experiences and expertise to guide the impact of the funding cycle.


Daniela Anais Cortez Bravo
Student, UCLA

Daniela Anais Cortez Bravo (she/her) is a third year undergraduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). A first-generation Latina student, originally from the Bay Area, Bravo is double majoring in Public Affairs and Education & Social Transformation while being involved in research and student advocacy. She was elected to the UCLA Associated Students Academic Affairs chair for the 2022-2023 Academic year, where she spearheaded a student survey on textbook affordability solutions and the rollout of automatic textbook billing on her campus. Her office also ran the Books for Bruins program, where students were able to receive grants to purchase their course textbooks.

Dr. Gerry Hanley
Executive Director, MERLOT and SkillsCommons, CSULB

Gerry Hanley, Ph.D., is the Executive Director of MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching) and SkillsCommons at California State University Long Beach (CSULB). At CSULB, Dr. Hanley is also the Director of the Center for Usability in Design and Accessibility and Professor Emeritus of Psychology. His previous positions included Assistant Vice Chancellor and Senior Director for Academic Technology Services at the CSU Office of the Chancellor. Dr. Hanley holds a Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts, and Doctor of Philosophy from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in Experimental/Cognitive Psychology.

Pamela Haynes
Elected Trustee, Los Rios Community College District Governing Board

Pam Haynes has served for 24 years as an elected trustee on the Los Rios Community College District Governing Board. She also serves as an appointed member of the California Community Colleges Board of Governors. Haynes holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Harvard University, Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from UCLA, and is a proud graduate of Santa Monica College.

Dr. Cristina Moon
Professor, Chabot College

Dr. Cristina Moon is Professor of Spanish at Chabot College, where she has been a full-time faculty member since 2006. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from the University of California Berkeley, as well as a Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy from UCLA. She currently serves as the Spanish Lead, H5P/ADAPT Lead, and the OER Liaison for the Academic Senate’s Open Educational Resources Initiative (OERI). Dr. Moon has co-authored two Spanish OERs: Entrada Libre, an OER for second-year Spanish, and Tarea Libre, a first-year Spanish homework bank in LibreTexts ADAPT. At Chabot College, Dr. Moon is the OER/ZTC Coordinator and World Languages Coordinator.

Michelson 20MM is a private, nonprofit foundation working toward equity for underserved and historically underrepresented communities by expanding access to educational and employment opportunities, increasing affordability of educational programs, and ensuring the necessary supports are in place for individuals to thrive. To do so, we work in the following verticals: Digital Equity, Intellectual Property, Smart Justice, Student Basic Needs, and Open Educational Resources (OER). Co-chaired and funded by Alya and Gary Michelson, Michelson 20MM is part of the Michelson Philanthropies network of foundations.

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