Funding roundup

National Science Foundation officials watch a demonstration of virtual reality technology during a visit in May to Northland Community and Technical College in Minnesota. (Photo: Northland)

Minnesota’s Northland Community and Technical College, along with five other partner agencies, has received a $7 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to help start the National Center for Autonomous Technologies (NCAT) at the college’s Aerospace Campus.

NCAT will join the NSF’s circle of Advanced Technological Education Centers (ATE) to focus on “autonomous technology,” which is included in an expanding array of uses, from guided agricultural equipment, to self-navigated household vacuum cleaner.

NCAT will focus on air, land and sea autonomous technologies: unmanned aircraft systems, connected automated vehicles and unmanned underwater vehicles. It will hold professional development workshops for educators and industry professionals, and promote and provide support to encourage more engagement in STEM and autonomous technologies in secondary and postsecondary education, particularly in underserved areas.

“NCAT will create the infrastructure to develop skilled technicians who will build the workforce of today and tomorrow to meet industry demands,” said Christopher Hadfield, director of the Minnesota State Transportation Center for Excellence. “In two years, 60 percent of all new vehicles will have autonomous technology components.”

Also in Minnesota, Central Lakes College (CLC) received a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to expand student success efforts. The project focuses on using data to identify at-risk students and provide proactive support.

Spread over five years, CLC will use the grant to hire four coaches to provide school-performance monitoring, mentoring and other supports to advocate for students. The college also will hire an instructional designer, institutional researcher and project director. CLC is partnering with the University of Minnesota to complete the research aspect of the grant.

“This level of intensive advising requires more capacity than the typical college is capable of on its own with constantly tightening budgets,” said Paul Preimesberger, CLC’s dean of enrollment management and student success.

Also in the state, Minnesota West Community and Technical College, as a partner in the Southwest Minnesota Teacher Preparation Partnership, will participate in a $600,000 grant project funded by the McKnight Foundation to increase diversity among teacher candidates in the region. Other partners are the Worthington Public School District, Southwest Minnesota State University and Southwest Initiative Foundation.

The project also will examine what it takes to support students who want to teach, especially students of color. According to the Worthington Public School District, more than 68 percent of its high school students are from one of more than 40 cultures in the area. And more than 78 percent of elementary students in the district are students of color. Only about 7 percent of their teachers are people of color.

The grant will allow the partnership to use a place-based pathway to teaching for current Worthington high school students, paraprofessional staff or anyone interested in pursuing a teaching career. Participants will have opportunities to complete all their coursework to earn credits toward a degree in teaching. Current teachers and faculty will receive intercultural competency training, and a community advisory committee will be established for community input.

North Carolina

Johnston Community College received a $10,000 Dollar General Literacy grant to support adult literacy.  The funding will bolster the college’s Career Ready: Stackable Credentials for Employment project, which aims to serve 55 basic-skills students through a three-tiered model of learning: contextualized, career-infused English language instruction; workforce preparation activities; and workforce/occupational training.

Pennsylvania

At the Community College of Philadelphia (CCP), scholarship opportunities are expanding thanks to a $1 million gift from the Joseph and Marie Field Foundation. The donation will specifically help students who were unable to attend college immediately after their high school graduation.

“Either due to personal, social or financial reasons, many students delay going to college which negatively impacts their ability to achieve a college degree or pursue career opportunities,” CCP President Guy Generals said. “In many cases, the returning students are more mature and return with a stronger commitment to the value of education and its benefits.”

CCP offers a Promise scholarship that provides academically qualified local high school graduates an opportunity to enroll at CCP at no cost to them. Like the Promise scholarship, the Field Foundation Scholarship will allow eligible students to attend CCP sans tuition or fees.

About the Author

Tabitha Whissemore
is a contributor to Community College Daily and managing editor of AACC's Community College Journal.