Two University of Louisiana System initiatives received national grants to continue toward the System’s goal of creating the most educated generation in Louisiana’s history. The National Association of System Heads (NASH) awarded its first-ever grants from its Catalyst Fund to both Compete LA and the Reginald F. Lewis Scholars, receiving $10,000 and $7,500 respectively. The award dollars will be used to expand opportunities for those served by the two programs.  

“To be among the first round of Catalyst Fund grant recipients is a tangible recognition of the work we do at the University of Louisiana System,” said Dr. Jim Henderson, UL System president and CEO. “Much of our focus is on scalability, and these funds will allow us to continue creating opportunities and solutions to more citizens.” 

Awarded to 13 programs across the nation, NASH’s Catalyst Fund encourages broad engagement of NASH members nationwide in sharing promising practices that lead to equitable student success outcomes that are scalable within and across public higher education systems.  

“As an incubator of best practices, NASH is proud to have launched our innovative Catalyst Fund,” said Dr. Nancy Zimpher, director of the Power of Systems at NASH. “Its impact will be far reaching but the concept is simple: through pooled philanthropic support, NASH is recognizing and incentivizing the development of systems’ big ideas that, once proven to work, have the potential to be scaled not only within systems but at peer systems across the country.” 

Compete LA is the University of Louisiana System’s adult completion program designed to meet the needs of the 653,000 Louisianians with some college credit but no degree. Adults are matched with a free coach who evaluates students’ goals and credits in order to provide guidance toward a pathway at one of the UL System’s nine member institutions. Students are offered discounted flat-rate tuition, $275 per credit hour, to make their return to college more affordable. Catalyst fund dollars will be used to directly support students through scholarship and micro grants to assist with school-related expenses including student debt relief.  

The Reginald F. Lewis Scholars program enhances the educational experience for exemplary Black male students. Two students from each of the System’s nine member institutions are participating in the inaugural cohort of the three-year program focusing on key areas—academics, social advancement and community service. Catalyst Fund dollars help to fully fund the first three cohorts of the program—the time needed to see the first Scholars through graduation.