Open educational resources (OER) are building momentum on college campuses across the country. Knowing that 65% of students reported skipping buying a textbook due to cost, OER can be the difference between accessing the materials needed to learn and attempting to pass without them. 

These freely accessible learning materials play a crucial role in democratizing knowledge and expanding educational opportunities. Due to their open copyright license, OER eliminates financial barriers and enables students–regardless of income level–to access quality educational content. By fostering a culture of collaboration, knowledge sharing, and responsive learning modalities, OER empowers educators to tailor their teaching materials based on the needs of their students. 

For over a decade, the Michelson 20MM Foundation has been committed to promoting programs and policies that advance the proliferation and adoption of OER. This year, the 2023 Spark Grants OER Funding Cycle called upon organizations whose work aligns with the below focus areas to submit applications for up to $25,000 in funding:

  • Support the implementation of California’s historic investment in the Zero-Textbook-Cost (ZTC) degree program in the California Community College (CCC) system;
  • Research on how OER impacts student outcomes for marginalized groups (BIPOC, student parents, unhoused students, tribal communities, etc.);
  • Research and public education around automatic textbook billing, with a focus on student experience and consumer protections;
  • Research around student data protections in the instructional materials marketplace.

Following a competitive application process and informed by the recommendations of the Spark Community Advisors, please join us in welcoming the 2023 OER Spark Grantees!

Recognizing the importance of accessibility in education, The Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME) will create a six-module course designed to teach California Community College (CCC) faculty how to leverage Universal Design for Learning guidelines to ensure OER is more accessible to students with access and functional needs. By doing so, ISKME will help CCC faculty build more inclusivity into their ZTC degrees. 

“Inclusive Access” programs can counteract the progress made through OER, and no one understands the impact as well as those who are directly affected by the program: students. Across the country, students are already pushing back against the tide of these programs. To center the voices of students and make them heard, SPARC will provide support for student leaders to advocate against the negative features of Inclusive Access programs and to expand support for OER. 

Building upon the success of the Bay Area Bootcamp, 25 faculty members based in Southern California will have the opportunity to attend a Creative Commons’ Bootcamp. Participants will learn how to legally and effectively implement the open licensing requirements of the ZTC pathways program, which has the potential to benefit over one hundred community colleges in California and can be scaled locally, nationally, and globally. 

We look forward to sharing the impact of the 2023 grants in the year to come!

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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