Helping eligible institutions explore student-centered partnerships

The Transformational Partnerships Fund supports colleges and universities interested in exploring partnerships and collaborations that could fundamentally transform the way they operate — centering students in solutions that deliver stability and success.

Catalytic grants (up to $100,000 per exploration) can be used to engage third-party technical assistance providers knowledgeable in law, finance, governance, communications, human resources, and other related fields. Grants can also be used to pay per diems to faculty or other staff working outside of their normal contracts to explore a partnership.  These grants may support the exploration of partnerships in many forms — ranging from shared administrative services or consolidated academic offerings on one end of the spectrum, to full mergers on the other.

Seed grants (up to $10,000 per exploration) can be used by single institutions to help defray the costs of preparing to explore a partnership. This will often involve some type of event – usually offsite – which shares information and builds consensus to take action among senior leadership and trustees.  A Seed grant does not preclude later applying for a Catalytic grant together with an identified partner.

Criteria for Catalytic Grants

Partnership explorations supported by TPF must involve two or more degree-granting institutions of higher education. These can include private nonprofit colleges, public universities or systems, community colleges, and (in exceptional situations) for-profit institutions or nonprofits that are not degree-granting institutions.

TPF will prioritize partnerships based on the following criteria:

TPF’s grants support the out-of-pocket, one-time, external costs of exploring of new partnerships; they are not available for allocated internal costs other than in exceptional circumstances.

TFP will not consider grants to single institutions, to support the implementation of partnerships where the decision to proceed has already been made, to expand or restructure existing partnerships, or to support ongoing programs even if they involve two or more institutions.

TPF will only consider supporting the exploration of a partnership involving one academic department (e,g. nursing) if (i) it is the first stage in a broader institutional partnership discussion and/or (ii) would involve a meaningful number of students (250+).

TPF only supports partnerships predominantly serving undergraduates.

TPF will not support the exploration of a partnership that extends the activities of a pre-existing multi-institution collaborative/membership group/network.  However, TPF will consider pre-exploration “seed” grants for the membership group to convene participants to explore the level of interest in exploring a proposed standalone partnership.  TPF will also consider the exploration of standalone partnerships whose participants have been introduced by / or are members of such groups.

TPF does not support partnerships involving only faith-serving (in contrast to faith-based) institutions.

TPF does not support partnerships involving institutions located outside the United States.

More information regarding grant eligibility is available under Frequent Questions. (Nonprofits that are not institutions of higher education may find helpful resources at the Sustained Collaboration Network)

Ready to inquire about grants?

Grant applications will be considered on a rolling basis. Institutions interested in applying for a grant can start the application process or contact us for more information.


“Over the coming decade, higher education will go through profound changes. Boards must be open to considering various types of partnerships as a way for the institutions they govern to best advance their educational missions and serve students.”

—Larry Penley
Chair, Arizona Board of Regents

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