The Michelson 20MM Foundation is committed to promoting programs and policies that advance the proliferation and adoption of open educational resources to improve the affordability of instructional materials, efficacy of faculty instruction, and equitable access to educational opportunities. The foundation was launched over a decade ago when a simple news article of qualified community college students dropping out due to the cost of textbooks moved Dr. Gary K. Michelson to first provide immediate help, and then to move 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 set Michelson 20MM on its way.
Since then, we continue to make investments in this work through our Michelson Spark Grants program. The 2024 Open Educational Resources Spark Grants funding cycle opens on February 26th and closes on March 11th. During this cycle, Michelson 20MM seeks to fund projects that support systems-level strategies with potential to create positive impact at scale and inform public policy.
We are interested in supporting initiatives that address the following in the higher education space (content creation proposals are not being sought at this time):
Support the implementation of California’s historic investment in the Zero Textbook Cost degree program in the California Community College (CCC) system with a focus on capacity building, professional development, and scaling OER marketing.
Support the development of and/or the rollout of OER programs throughout the University of California (UC) system with a focus on capacity building, professional development, student advocacy, and OER marketing.
Mobilize student and/or faculty participation in passing OER policies at the UC, CCC, and/or California State University (CSU) systems.
Execute public education campaigns targeting media outlets with national, broad reaching readership to educate college and university administrators, policy makers, and the broader public on course material affordability issues within higher education, with a focus on California. Preference will be given to projects that target media outlets whose focus is beyond education.
Research and public education around automatic textbook billing, with an emphasis on student experience and consumer protection for policy makers. We are particularly interested in research on the prevalence, types, and impact of automatic textbook billing that is occurring within the three California public higher education systems.
Investigate how coursemarking and course material price transparency impact student behavior and/or student success. With multiple models of coursemarking, including zero textbook cost and ranges in low textbook costs, we are interested in understanding how students navigate these models and how it impacts the decisions they make.
Funding Cycle Details
We will be awarding grants up to $25,000 to nonprofits and educational institutions whose projects hit one of the focus areas outlined above.
We will not fund initiatives that primarily seek to develop OER content during this Michelson Spark Grant cycle. While we realize there is a tremendous desire from faculty for this type of support, we are leveraging our funding to effect broader systemic change at this time.
For this funding cycle, while most of our focus areas are dedicated to California, there are limited opportunities for projects with a more national focus.
We welcome proposals where Michelson Spark Grant funds are part of a larger overall project with multiple funding streams.
OER Senior Program Manager Cailyn Nagle and Director of Operations and Programs Ryan Erickson-Kulas will provide an in-depth overview of the Spark Grants program, highlight past awardees, and answer any questions from attendees.