Campus Collaborative

The Hawthorn Foundation is a leader in the important collaboration between industry and academia.  Now more than ever before, workforce development is a key factor in a company’s decision to expand or relocate in a particular region or state.  For Missouri to be competitive, action needs to be taken to strengthen our talent pipeline and foster greater coordination between business and higher education to produce the skills needed in a 21st Century economy.

The Hawthorn Foundation oversees seven programs that give more Missouri students the opportunity to earn a college degree and strengthen the state’s position as a national leader in higher education affordability and innovation. Citing the state’s strong leadership in this area, USA Funds selected Missouri to receive two $1 million grants to expand the Missouri Innovation Campus initiative and provide greater access to competency-based education.



Missouri Innovation Campus

The goal of the Innovation Campus program is to train students for career opportunities in high-demand fields while cutting the time it takes to earn a college degree and reducing student debt. By the time they graduate, participating students can receive both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree.

Hospitality Leadership Academy

Missouri State University in partnership with Ozarks Technical Community College, Springfield Hotel Lodging Association, Springfield/Branson Chapter of the Missouri Restaurant Association, and select southwest Missouri high schools, received $375,400 of Missouri Innovation Campus grant funding to support the development of the Hospitality Leadership Academy (HLA). The goals of the HLA are to:

  • Increase the number of academically and professionally prepared graduates to service the hospitality industry’s expanding employment needs.

  • Provide a streamlined pathway that allows students to complete a hospitality-related bachelor’s degree within three to four years after high school.

  • Reduce the cost of obtaining a bachelor’s degree.

Competency-Based Learning

Competency-Based learning allows students to advance based on the knowledge and skills they demonstrate, rather than the time they spend in class. This model has proven particularly effective at helping students earn a college degree at an affordable cost because they do not have to take courses on subjects they have already mastered.

Truman State University’s Data Mastery Initiative

Truman State University’s Data Mastery Initiative received $400,000 to seek a “proof of concept” for an innovative approach to competency-based learning.  The project focuses on the vital field of data science by intervening at two ends of a pipeline of students from pre-college learners, through traditional undergraduates, to adult learners placed in industries vital to Missouri’s continued economic growth.

  • An introductory computer science course offered to both high school and selected undergraduate sections;

  • At least four initial graduate level courses in data science offered to students seeking a certificate in data science and available to advanced undergraduate students;

  • Within the data science courses, multiple non-credit, digital badges representing embedded, specific, notable skills.

Strategic Communication and Leadership in STEM Fields

Northwest Missouri State University (Northwest) received $385,000 to develop the framework for a competency‐based graduate program for Strategic Communication and Leadership in STEM Fields.

  • The primary audience for this degree is proposed to be executive leaders with an emphasis on members of the military completing advanced strategic training at Fort Leavenworth’s Command and General Staff College.

  • Non‐military business leaders, who desire to increase their leadership and organizational communication skills to impact change and improve effectiveness, will also be likely candidates for this new graduate degree.