REAL Challenge Grants - applications open!
We are now accepting applications for the REAL Challenge Grants. These grants provide funding support for VCU faculty and staff as you create or enhance experiential learning opportunities for your students.
What is REAL?
REAL's mission is to answer how VCU can guarantee every student an academic experience that involves hands-on learning activities directly relevant to realizing their personal and professional goals.
To our students, its the university's promise to engage you in meaningful, hands-on work that builds both your professional and personal identity.
For our faculty and university professionals, it is a promise to support you as you create unique ways to provide these types of meaningful experiences for our students.
What REAL means in practice
REAL is not a hard reset, nor will it have a negative impact on the faculty, programs and projects already engaged in experiential learning. Instead, it’s an intentional organizing of the types of career-building and civic-minded activities that VCU already does well, providing an anchor for all the university's experiential education activities, including research, study abroad,service learning, practicum and internships.
In practice, REAL means:
- New or improved curricular elements to ensure adherence to best practices
- New or improved tracking of experiential learning across the institution
- Bringing an equity lens to experiential learning through information sharing and student exposure to tailored experiential learning opportunities
REAL does not:
- Increase student’s time to degree
- Increase student’s debt load
A wide variety of academic activities qualify as a REAL experience, many of which already occur throughout the VCU curriculum:
A collection of recent articles about REAL:
- Making reflection real: Hands-on workshop illustrates the importance of reflective pedagogy
- Experiential learning the focus of first-ever REAL poster session
- Lessons learned from the Feb. 28 REAL town hall
- Universitywide initiative to boost experience-based education gains momentum (VCU News)
- Making REAL progress: Group to guide experiential learning initiative holds first meeting
- Photo gallery from the Dec. 3 REAL Summit with Dr. Tia McNair
REAL next steps
REAL goals for the 2019-20 academic year include:
- Expand engagement: Convene an expanded REAL Council to engage and involve stakeholders in REAL, including alumni and business/industry leaders
- Map engaged learning pathways: Use the results of the Opportunity Audit to identify curricular pathways to advanced experiential learning activities and to credentialing in high demand work force areas
- Implement new IT solutions: Use the Student Opportunity Center platform's database to both connect students with opportunities and to track their engagement on a central level
- Identify a co-curriculum transcript solution: Explore the utility of digital badging for capturing, verifying, and credentialing student non-credit activities