, a nonprofit organization based in Chapel Hill, is partnering with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for a to help foster job creation.

Among the recipients is Guilford Technical Community College, which will receive $743,000 over three years. The funds are to be used to expand a remedial instruction program that is designed to help more low income and minority students complete their educations.

In awarding the grant MDC and the Foundation said the funds would be utilized to “provide intensive advising and case management for remedial students; create a new Learning Assistance Center; and expand its student success course, learning communities, peer-led instruction program, and accelerated remedial courses.”

"The pressing need to shore up weak academic skills in first-year students is one of the most significant, but least discussed, problems confronting higher education,” said Carol Lincoln, director of the Developmental Education Initiative and national director of Achieving the Dream for MDC, in a statement. “Colleges that can figure out how to quickly and efficiently boost basic skills, particularly among students of color and low-income students, will play a leading role in helping them earn the college degrees necessary for economic success in America today.”

Lumina Foundation for Education of Indianapolis, Ind., also pledged $1.5 million toward the effort.

The Gates Foundation announced its movement into higher education last year and made an initial grant to MDC to work on remedial education.

The most promising of those ideas will be expanded with this round of grants.

A new study by Boston-based Jobs for the Future found that nearly 60 percent of students enrolling in American community colleges must first take remedial classes at what is considered the high school level.

Some colleges reported 90 percent of low-income and minority students must take high-school level classes before they are ready for college level courses. All these remedial classes cost American taxpayers more than $2 billion a year. Some of that money is wasted because many students don’t complete the classes or continue their education.

More than 133,000 students take remedial classes in the 15 community colleges selected for the grants. The number of students moving from remedial to college-level classes improved 16 to 20 percent through the programs piloted by MDC and the Gates Foundation.

The grants announced Monday also include programs in Connecticut, Florida, Ohio, Texas and Virginia. All but North Carolina are also getting money for state programs in support of remedial education.