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CollegeBuys Quarterly May 2020 | 4th Quarter

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented massive challenges to California’s public higher education system, and has forced colleges to quickly adapt to ensure public safety. Community colleges across the state were required to move lectures, class discussions, and assignments online within a matter of weeks, which is no easy feat. While an announcement was released on May 12 confirming CSU’s decision to proceed with online instruction in the fall, many of our districts have yet to make a final decision. Chancellor Oakley announced his encouragement of colleges to go online in the fall at the Board of Governors meeting on May 18, but this multifaceted decision will ultimately be made at the local level.

Whether your district decides to continue with online instruction or welcome students, faculty, and staff back on campus with precautionary measures in place come fall, it is our hope that you find this edition as a helpful resource in identifying funding sources for your district to access in light of the COVID pandemic and information on how our CollegeBuys partners are supporting our colleges during this time, including effective work from home solutions as well as preparedness for returning to a healthy workplace. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to the CollegeBuys Concierge Service at cbcontracts@foundationccc.org.

Funding Sources Available through FEMA and CARES Act

Positioning Colleges for FEMA Reimbursement Eligibility

In response to COVID-19, President Donald J. Trump declared a state of national emergency on March 13, 2020. Subsequently, a major disaster declaration was issued for California on March 22, 2020. In doing so, FEMA announced availability of federal funds, including direct federal assistance under Public Assistance, for all areas affected by COVID-19 in the state of California. California Community Colleges, under such declarations, are able to obtain a 75 percent reimbursement on campus procurements associated with their response to COVID-19.

To be eligible to receive reimbursements for procurements related to COVID-19, FEMA is requiring the inclusion of specific contracting provisions. As such, the Foundation is currently in the process of amending close to 40 contracts to include the required provisions, which have been identified through conversations with our colleges and our Advisory Board as those being utilized by our colleges for the procurement of products and/or services related to the ongoing emergency. Once the Foundation and our partners have executed an amendment, the contract will be updated and uploaded to the CollegeBuys Contracts Library. For a full list of contracts that are being amended, and their current status, please click here.

Relief and Support Afforded through CARES Act

On April 9, 2020, the Federal CARES Act was passed to provide relief and support to educational institutions impacted by COVID-19. Of the approximately $2 trillion in federal aid provided by this bill, California Community Colleges received $579 million in funding. Funds were allocated amongst institutions based on their fulltime in-person Pell grant recipients as a share of the national total and their fulltime in-person enrollment who are not Pell Grant recipients as share of the national total. At least 50% of CARES Act funds received by an institution must go towards providing emergency financial aid to students, while the remaining balance can be earmarked as Institutional Funds to cover costs associated with COVID-19 disruption to instruction. On April 21, a technical FAQ was released by the U.S. Department of Education outlining how Institutional Funds can be spent. Based on the USDE letter released by Secretary DeVos, the following conditions apply to the allocation of Institutional Funds:

  • Institutions need to have first signed the student aid funding certificate to access these funds
  • Should institutions choose, they can convert their institutional use funds to provide additional emergency financial aid to students under the same rules as the already issued agreement
  • USDE urges institutions, especially well-resourced schools and universities with substantial endowments, to “devote the maximum amount of funds possible to emergency financial aid grants to students, including some or all of the funds earmarked for Recipient’s Institutional Costs” (Section 3 of the Funding Agreement)
  • Institutions may not use these funds to provide emergency grants to students who were enrolled exclusively in online or distance education programs prior to March 13th
  • Institutions have reasonable discretion on how they use the money as long as they can demonstrate a valid connection between the eligible expense and “significant changes to the delivery of instruction due to the coronavirus” (Section 4 (b) of the Funding Agreement)
  • Institutions can use the funds to reimburse themselves for student refunds (e.g., room and board, tuition, and other fees) or technology (e.g., laptops, hotspots) they purchased for students, if done so on or after March 13th
  • Institutions cannot use the funds for executive salaries or benefits or for the provision of pre-enrollment recruitment activities such as marketing and advertising
  • Institutions that accept funds are required to continue to pay employees and contractors to the greatest extent practicable based on the unique financial circumstances at each institution
  • Institutions will need to submit quarterly reports to USDE to demonstrate that they used the funds for qualified purposes and to account for how much of the funds were used to reimburse refunds
  • Institutions should spend the funds within one year

While the CARES Act provides much needed relief to students and institutions impacted by COVID-19, it is important to note that international students, undocumented students and non-matriculated students are ineligible to receive any aid. Recognizing that these students also need support, emergency funds, local funds and private grants are being organized by institutions.

To help support higher education clients, CDW-G has put together an informational webinar to clarify the process for applying and receiving CARES Act dollars, and how they can be utilized to best support college needs. Join Dr. Curtiss Strietelmeier, an Education Strategist for CDW-G on Wednesday, June 3rd at 1:00pm CST (Click here to RSVP). If you have a conflict, consider watching a recorded session (Click here to watch a recorded session) and use “CARESact1” for the password.

Improving Financial Communications with Students through Nelnet

Nelnet Campus Commerce, a payment technology and eCommerce provider, provides a wide variety of financial solutions to address the needs of higher education. They have helped over 30 California Community Colleges reduce outstanding receivables and provide more flexible payment options to students. Their solutions include the past due payment plan, which automatically reaches out to students when they start falling behind and helps them get back on track, and their actively managed payment plans, where students can choose how to be notified when payment is due, make payments via the single sign-on that they already use for their college, designate automatic payments, authorize parents to make payments, and chat with Nelnet’s call center for help. To learn more about Nelnet’s payment plans and how they can help reduce student debt, consider attending their webinar on May 26, 2020 from 11:00am - 12:00pm. You may register here.

In response to COVID-19, Nelnet partnered with the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) to share important insights on the CARES Act. Watch their on-demand webinar, CARES Act and What You Should Know, to learn how funds are appropriated to colleges and universities, the Department of Education’s guidance on eligibility, disbursement requirements, and allowable uses. The webinar also provides insights on tax implications, major lending programs created by the CARES Act, and has information on future action items in COVID-19 relief legislation.

For more information or other relevant information, please reach out to California residents Alex Manning, Regional Vice President, or Roge Karma, Customer Relationship Manager.

Grubhub Partnership to Address Student Food Insecurity

The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the challenges our community college students face when it comes to basic needs. Students who experienced housing and food insecurities pre-COVID were left even more vulnerable after the pandemic hit. An agreement with Grubhub, a food delivery service, was created to provide another vehicle for our community colleges to distribute food vouchers to students. Compton College President Keith Curry was at the forefront of identifying food delivery services as an innovative way to provide our neediest and most vulnerable students with meals. Access the agreement here. For more information, contact Elaine Reodica, Director of Collaborative Services.

How FCCC Partners are Supporting Colleges with COVID-related Challenges

Streamlining AP Processes

U.S. Bank was the first bank-issuer of commercial card programs in 1989, and has continued to lead the way in developing commercial card best practices, serving over 1,000 entities in the education sector, including K-12, community colleges, research, public and private universities. Their Higher Education and Public Sector (HEPS) program is a competitively bid and awarded incentive program for commercial card services, sponsored by California State University (CSU) and the Foundation for California Community Colleges (FCCC) and is available to all higher education clients in the United States.

Benefits include:

  • Access to secure Purchasing Card, Corporate Travel Card, One Card, Virtual Card, and Fleet Card
  • Ability to join through a Program Member Application with a 5-year contract term
  • Generous revenue sharing opportunities, which provide rebates to qualifying participants on individual program performance
  • No administrative fees
  • No minimum requirements to earn rebate

In light of COVID-19, U.S. Bank has seen an extraordinary uptick in processing virtual card payments for clients due to its ability to streamline the Accounts Payable (AP) process by improving reconciliation and driving additional rebate dollars back to schools. Virtual card payments are made real-time and can be processed remotely. This has become a favorable solution to suppliers and clients, who have expressed health concerns and reported challenges with cutting and receiving paper checks while trying to comply with shelter-in-place orders. To review this payment method, please visit U.S. Bank Virtual Pay or contact Leslie Massey, U.S. Bank representative to the colleges, at 805-591-7255 or leslie.massey@usbank.com.

Faster Financial Aid Processes

Butte College in Oroville, CA, has implemented both CampusMetrics™ and StudentForms™, and Director of Financial Aid Tammera Shinar says students are now moving through the process of applying for aid and are receiving their much-needed financial aid faster than ever before. “Implementing CampusLogic was a game-changer for our students,” Shinar comments. “The feedback we hear from students is very positive. They really appreciate the online functionality that CampusLogic offers along with the great communication features that keep students informed about their financial aid.”

Elizabeth Hilton, Director of Student Financial Services at Riverside City College, summarized their experience by saying, “StudentForms from CampusLogic has changed the landscape of financial aid at our college.” She explained that moving from paper-driven processes to a virtual platform significantly decreased processing time while showing an increase of 16% in student files submitted. “We have been able to re-imagine our office from a process-centered philosophy to a student-centered and customer service driven mission.”

Keeping Your District Updated Throughout the Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every higher education institution in the country, but it also presents unique opportunities to come out of the trial stronger, more connected, and better prepared than ever. Regroup Mass Notification has been a longstanding member of the CollegeBuys partnership with the Foundation, whose cloud-based platform can handle routine communication as well as emergency alerts, allowing administrators to reach thousands of faculty, staff, students and other groups within minutes. Working in partnership with Johns Hopkins University, Regroup has released two new mapping layers that let administrators visualize the spread of COVID-19 at state and local levels. This new tool was developed in an effort to equip clients to respond to the current global pandemic, increase situational awareness, and inform their communities. Regroup offers a special 30% discount on its platform for all California Community Colleges and is offering expedited, efficient 48-hour onboarding during this fast-moving pandemic.

To take advantage of this unique opportunity to receive FEMA reimbursements for the purchase of Regroup, begin by scheduling a demo on the company’s website at regroup.com/demo.

Simulation Training for Nurses to Complete Their Course Requirements

In light of our community colleges transitioning to an online learning environment, Laerdal is providing their vSim product line, a web based learning platform designed to stimulate real nursing scenarios, allowing students to continue their nursing curriculum in a safe and realistic online environment. The platform provides adaptive, interactive virtual simulations integrated with curriculum resources and personalized feedback to allow students to feel confident and competent in patient-centered care. Professors are able to manage classes, monitor student results pre and post simulation, and view student feedback logs in the areas of pediatrics, surgical, pharmacology, mental health, maternity, and gerontology, amongst others.

To ensure proper implementation, Laerdal also offers their Managed Services Program, a turnkey training solution that provides end-to-end management of simulation resources for rapid deployment of simulation training initiatives. This program is entirely customizable and can deliver any combination of simulators, professional simulation operators, and quality scenarios.

Work Effectively from Home with the Right Furniture

As many people are working from home, they have been faced with the new challenge of creating a comfortable and productive workspace. For some, this may require purchasing a new desk, chair, computer monitor, as well as other ancillary items. Office Depot recently launched their Work From Anywhere program to assist employees in purchasing equipment and supplies for their home offices with the capability of shipping products directly free of charge (additional freight charges may apply to orders exceeding 70 lbs. in weight and/or 110” in length/width). The Haworth NOW program also provides ergonomic seating, desks, and tools for quickship to deliver in 3-6 days.

Our New Reality: Working and Managing Remotely

On May 28th, the College Buys’ Collaborative Services department will be co-hosting a webinar with the Association of California Community College Administrators (ACCCA) titled “Leading Remotely: A Primer for What Community College Managers Need to Know”. The webinar will be featuring Darren Murph, the Head of Remote for Gitlab, the world’s largest remote company in the world. Based on Murph’s experience managing over 1,200 members located in more than 65 countries, applicable best practices and tips will be shared with our community college leaders. Adjusting to the new reality of working from home can be stressful and difficult for many but here are a few helpful tips from Darren Murph’s “Remote Playbook”:

  1. Carve out a dedicated workspace. Designate a space in your home for work and commit to using that space purely for work.
  2. Respect the routine, but experiment with change. Find what works for you. For example, when are your peak hours of energy and focus? Perhaps you would like to schedule work blocks during these peak hours.
  3. Roll with the changes. Anticipate and accept that there will be growing pains in figuring out what new ways of working, communicating or setups will work for you and your team.

To learn more tips for working and managing remotely, be sure to log onto the upcoming webinar. More information to follow!

Returning to a Healthy Workplace

A successful transition back into the workplace will involve implementing solutions to ensure the safety of employees, whether that be infrastructure improvements or establishing new procedures. Below are a few ideas to consider when returning to the office.

  1. Implement an effective management strategy to help prepare and support employees with the new adjustments.
  2. Establish flexible work strategies. If possible, allow employees to work remotely or continue working remotely. As protocols are established, you can begin phasing in employees to return to work in stages. Another option is to alternate work schedules to allow different employees to work in the office on different days.
  3. Upgrade technology to allow employees to seamlessly work from home.
  4. Add sensors and no-touch technology for hands-free operation, and promote hygienic measures.
  5. Discourage shared usage by designating meeting spaces, seats, storage, and tools and devices to individuals or small groups. Furthermore, reduce the number of in-person meeting participants by allowing them to attend remotely.
  6. Use spacious layouts and stagger employees to maintain a minimum of 6 foot distances, create enclosures, and/or delineate space.

The Foundation’s furniture partners such as KI, Steelcase, and Haworth have taken precautionary measures within their own factories, implementing safety protocols so they can continue making products and provide design solutions to clients. For those who are considering improving their work spaces by purchasing panels and dividers, the Foundation offers contracts with Knoll and Krueger International (KI), who are able to provide such furniture. For those interested in installing plastic screens in high-traffic work areas and where face-to-face interaction is necessary, KI, Office Depot, Grainger, and Steelcase offer a wide variety of screens. Additional information about our partners and how they can assist your needs can be located here.

The demand for PPE has exponentially increased across all industries and sectors during this challenging time. The restraints in supply have made it difficult for the colleges to purchase the necessary supplies for their campuses to maintain essential operations. To help navigate this challenge, the Foundation has put together a list of their vendors that are providing PPE, cleaning chemicals and supplies, and other social distancing products. You may access the full list here.

Considerations for an Outdoor Learning Environment

Students are chatting and studying outdoors using Crider Contract Interior's Sunbolt CampusXL, one option from Crider's catalog of solar-powered charging stations.

The sudden shift to online learning has pushed colleges into deep discussions for their fall plans, and for the semester system, fall is only three months away. In the Bay area, Stanford and a handful of other schools are considering a mix of online and in-person instruction in an outdoor environment. Many students and instructors benefit from face-to-face interaction because it helps to focus, read non-verbal cues, and enhance discussion, which have shown to be shortcomings of online education. While the idea to host classes outside comes with challenges of its own, especially with the ever-evolving COVID pandemic, it is feasible with proper planning. For those considering moving classes outside, the Foundation offers an agreement with Crider Contract Interiors, a dealer of sustainable outdoor furniture, shade, solar, and lighting products. Their comprehensive collection includes 40’x30’ shade structures and solar-powered charging stations, ideal for learning outdoors and for students and instructors to charge their electronics during class. Crider’s furniture comes in many styles and shapes, requires minimal maintenance, and is built to last 10-25 years using recycled materials. You may access the contract here.

Conferences

Remember Face-to-Face Interaction?

Chief Information Systems Officers Association (CISOA) Conference

This year’s CISOA Conference was held at the Hyatt Regency Monterey Bay, March 1-4, 2020. The conference brings together the CCCs Chief Information Systems Officers (CISO) and Chief Technology Officers (CTO) to obtain valuable professional development and networking opportunities. Also participating in the conference are the statewide Foundation (via CollegeBuys) and the Chancellor’s Office. The format of the CISOA Conference follows a similar structure as our Annual Purchasing Conference.

This year’s conference focused on unified technology deployments -- opportunities for standardization of technology infrastructure -- between our districts to bring together economies of scale to help drive down costs of technologies used by our community colleges. The 4CIS Consortium is leading this conversation -- from a Common ERP system, to a Common Identity Management system. Conversations are already in the works with local districts to understand then develop our foundational needs which will inform the specifications of each project. The objective of their collective work is to create a system or tool that supports all 73 districts; and by bringing them together, result in significant cost savings to our colleges.

Though this year’s CISOA Conference was held on the eve of COVID-19, there were many valuable discussions that occurred that served to benefit our colleges during the crisis, when districts had to migrate to virtual environments. CISOA demonstrates the importance of working together, and the power of technology in addressing many otherwise impossible challenges to keep our system, students, and institutions connected.

A2MEND African American Male Summit

CollegeBuys is devoted to serving students in the community college system, with an equity-driven lens. With such a value system, it is only natural that we align ourselves with organizations working to catapult one of the system’s most underserved populations – African American males. In early March, CollegeBuys attended and helped sponsor A2MEND’s 13th Annual African American Male Summit hosted by The African American Male Education Network and Development (A2MEND) organization, a nonprofit organization led by African American male educators with the mission of lessening the achievement gap for African American males in the community college system.

The Annual Summit is a three-day event, filled with phenomenal guest speakers who use cultural context in American society to reflect and present on best practices in the pedagogy and administration of the community college system, particularly touching on societal factors that have an influence on one’s ability to learn or become embedded in the community college system. In a presentation by Dr. Frank Harris III, Professor of Postsecondary Education and Co-Director of Community College Equity Assessment Lab (CCEAL), San Diego State University and Dr. Tina King, Vice President of Students Services, Southwestern College, they demonstrate a framework of ten factors that are critical to institutions being able to serve the needs of students of color.

Dr. Harris and Dr. King’s institutional structure is based on what they call the “Socio-Ecological Outcomes (SEO) Model.” In a non-exhaustive list, some topics include being grounded in an equity mindset, making decisions informed by inquiry and ongoing assessment, providing mentoring and mentee opportunities, and addressing acute basic needs insecurities. Poignantly put, students who have been historically disenfranchised must have a system put in place to bring them to the same starting line as their privileged counterparts. It is topics and conversations such as these that are the onus of educators and administrators across the system. In all, the summit highlighted some great opportunities for improvement in the community college system. Stay posted to see how CollegeBuys aids in the next chapter of this growth.

Purchasing Conference

In response to COVID, the Foundation rescheduled its annual Purchasing Conference to September 23-25, prioritizing the health and safety of attendees. The conference planning team is currently evaluating virtual event services platforms, as mass gatherings have been made to be part of Stage 4 of California’s reopening plan. Please stay tuned for any conference changes and developments as we navigate the current situation.

Online Education Support Update

Based on current government guidance and local decisions, systemwide migration of classes will continue through the 2020 fall semester. Understanding this need, the system has been working diligently to ensure that our students can continue accessing student support services in a virtual environment. The statewide Chancellor’s Office and the California Virtual Campus - Online Education Initiative (CVC-OEI) are leading conversations with the state’s budget officials in ensuring essential support tools remain in place during COVID-19 and for the foreseeable future where delivery of instruction and student access to campus is challenging.

With that said, all California Community Colleges will continue to have access to many online education ecosystem tools in response to COVID-19 through the 2020 fall semester. The following online tools have been extended, at no-cost, through December 31, 2020 – to avail of these resources, please reach out to the CVC-OEI via email: support@cvc.edu

Other no-cost resources currently available to the California Community Colleges that have not been extended are listed below with anticipated sunset dates. These dates may still be extended and updates will be provided via procurement list-serves once additional information is provided.

  • Online student engagement platform (Pronto) service will conclude on May 31, 2020.
  • Online Adobe creative computer labs (Adobe) service will conclude on July 6, 2020.
  • Online accessibility support (Blackboard Ally) service will conclude on September 30, 2020.

Considering our broad needs as a system during our ongoing virtual delivery of instruction and services, other Education and Online Technology contracts available to the California Community Colleges such as Virtual Graduation, Online Accessibility, please visit the CCC Contracts Library or reach out the cbcontracts@foundationccc.org.

Campaign for Relief and Recovery Through the California Community Colleges

The Foundation, in partnership with the Chancellor’s Office and system leaders, launched the Campaign for Relief and Recovery, a fundraising campaign to provide students with immediate and flexible dollars to help them continue their education, and to meet other needs that arise as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

On April 8, 2020, the Foundation announced its first fund from the campaign, the “First Response Healthcare Student Support Fund” (First Response Fund). The First Response Fund totaled approximately $350,000 and was made possible by nearly 60 individual donations, combined with dollars from the Foundation’s Nursing Education Investment Fund. The initial distributions aim to aid 1,000 low-income students and students whose livelihoods have been negatively impacted by the current economic crisis, with priority given to those in nursing and other allied health programs. These funds will help students stay enrolled and complete their education in California Community Colleges, while also helping address California’s pressing need to advance students in specific health care fields. As more funding is made available, this effort will be expanded to include students in respiratory therapy, followed by students in paramedic and emergency medical technician programs, and students training to be medical assistants.

If you are willing and able, please consider joining the Foundation by making a donation. Your contribution would be greatly appreciated during this difficult time to support our students, families, and communities.

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