Pellissippi State Community College, home of the Tennessee Consortium for International Studies, is one of only eight community colleges nationwide to receive a federal grant to develop and expand study abroad opportunities.
The U.S. State Department’s Increase and Diversify Education Abroad for U.S. Students Program, known by the acronym IDEAS, has awarded Pellissippi State $35,000 that will allow TnCIS, which serves all community colleges in Tennessee, to train and mentor other states’ community colleges and/or community college systems in creating their own robust study abroad opportunities.
“We know what we’re doing is working,” explained Tracey Bradley, executive director of TnCIS. “We know that what we have created with the consortium is attractive to community college students and affordable for community college students, and the IDEAS Program grant will help us serve others who want to model their programs after ours.”
Pellissippi State sent 150 students on 22 study abroad programs during 2023 with 35 programs already preapproved for 2024.
“We are nearly back to our pre-pandemic numbers,” Bradley noted. Pellissippi State historically ranked in the top five community colleges in the nation for sending students to study abroad, according to Open Doors® Report on International Educational Exchange.
Pellissippi State offers two kinds of study abroad programs: the consortium model that largely focuses on the general education courses college students need to transfer to four-year institutions and the newer partnership programs that are industry specific, such as Pellissippi State’s Business/Hospitality Management students delving into tourism and travel in Greece.
“We are designing programming that is attractive for industry and that, in turn, allows us to be more equitable in our study abroad programs by offering more programs and courses to more students,” Bradley explained. “Creating partnership programs with industry that are geared toward our students in two-year career programs gives them an incentive to study abroad as well.”
Using its grant money from the IDEAS Program, Pellissippi State will partner with The Forum on Education Abroad to train and mentor three other community colleges and/or community college systems. Pellissippi State and The Forum on Education Abroad will use the first six months of the grant, which began July 1, to promote the program. Then, starting in spring 2024, the successful candidates will be a part of Pellissippi State’s study abroad process, attending training and workshops both at Pellissippi State and through The Forum on Education Abroad.
The mentorships will culminate in site visits to Pellissippi State study abroad programs during summer 2025.
“This grant from the IDEAS Program will provide the funding for all that,” Bradley said. “The colleges we will be mentoring will have access to all our resources and training during this high-quality mentorship, which would be tens of thousands of dollars for them. This could be groundbreaking.”
Since 2016, the IDEAS Program has awarded 179 grants to 173 U.S. colleges and universities in 49 states and territories to create, expand and diversify their U.S. study abroad programs in 71 countries across all world regions. For a full list of 2023 IDEAS grantees, as well as information on upcoming IDEAS webinars and workshops, please visit www.studyabroadcapacitybuilding.org.