Skip to content

Education Program invites concept papers for College Promise funding opportunity


 ‘CoPro2.0’ will grant up to $2.6M in efforts to make tuition-free community college programs more equitable, financially sustainable

The Kresge Foundation’s Education Program today issued a Request for Concept Papers for a new funding initiative called CoPro2.0. The deadline to submit a paper is August 9.

The initiative, short for College Promise 2.0, will fund research and programming innovations that help to scale and improve the next generations of equitable, financially sustainable College Promise programs, or “free college” programs, working with community colleges across the United States.

CoPro2.0 will support seven grantees and invest up to $2.6 million in multi-year grants. The initiative will fund grants aligned with the following three streams and will be responsive to the shifting federal policy environment governing community colleges:

  • Program Innovations to facilitate partnerships that enhance or expand services, reimagine eligibility criteria, and catalyzed expansion of college-level reforms;
  • Research on Financial Sustainability to investigate public-private financing partnerships and innovative financial models that foreground program viability; and
  • Strategic, Local Implementation Guidance to support President Biden’s proposed national tuition-free community college program.

“Enabling all people to complete a high-quality postsecondary degree is critical to the well-being of individuals, communities, states and our nation,” said Kresge Program Officer Ed Smith, a published author and scholar on the topic of free college programs. “When done well, free community college programs increase degree attainment. But free tuition alone doesn’t close equity gaps. The best College Promise Programs ensure all student populations, especially low-income and students of color, benefit. They find local, sustainable funding models that ensure they’ll stick around for generations. And they connect to the community’s career pipeline. That’s where CoPro2.0 will focus.”

Finalists will be invited to submit a full proposal request in the second phase and should be notified in early September. Funding decisions will be announced publicly in November on

The Kresge Education Program works to close race-based equity gaps for low-income and underrepresented students in the United States and South Africa. The foundation’s American Cities Program and Human Services Program have also made available grants funds for this initiative. The American Cities Program seeks to expand opportunity by promoting effective and inclusive community development practices in American cities. The Human Services Program centers racial equity to advance social and economic mobility for families and communities.

Kresge’s Education Program is hosting an open webinar from 1-2 p.m. EDT on July 14 to share more about CoPro2.0 and to answer questions. RSVP at A recording of the webinar will be available on Kresge’s YouTube channel afterward.

Visit to learn more about this initiative, download the full Request for Concept Papers, find FAQs and submit a paper. Submit any questions to [email protected] by July 30 with the subject line CoPro2.0 Concept Paper Submission.