Funding roundup

LASER-TEC student John Anderson terminates a single mode fiber. LASER-TEC is headquartered at Indian River State College and just received a National Science Foundation grant. (Photo: IRSC)

In Florida, the Center for Laser and Fiber Optic Education (LASER-TEC), headquartered at Indian River State College, has received a $1.6 million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to support its transition into an Advanced Technological Education Resource Center. The expanded center will be better positioned to increase the laser, optics, photonic and fiber optics (LOPFO) technical workforce to meet U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) projections.

“This project intends to sustain and expand efforts to meet the national shortage of qualified LOPFO technicians,” said Chrys Panayiotou, LASER-TEC’s executive director and principal investigator.

DOL projects that between 2016 and 2026 at least 1,700 LOPFO technicians will be needed to fill open positions. These jobs have a median annual salary of more than $63,000.


Greenfield Community College (GCC) will use a $120,186 state grant to support adult students transitioning into college.

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education awarded a three-year grant to GCC, with $120,186 for the first year. With the grant, GCC will establish a Transition to Community College Program and cover the cost of 15 program participants’ tuition, fees, texts and supplies. GCC will partner with adult basic education programs to carry out the program, which will begin this fall.

The program “is designed to help adult learners make the often-difficult transition to college-level classes by providing the support and the academic foundation they need to achieve both their college and career goals. GCC’s program is rooted in an overriding objective: To connect adult learners to educational opportunities that will lead to gainful employment,” GCC President Yves Salomon-Fernández said in a release.


Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) student leaders are donating $30,000 to the college’s food pantry to provide support throughout the summer to struggling classmates. 

It’s the second time the Student Alliance, a group representing students at GRCC, voted to donate money to help classmates affected by the coronavirus crisis. In March, the group donated $8,000 intended for activities and programs, giving $5,500 to the emergency fund and $2,500 to purchase items for the food pantry.

The money would typically be used for student events, activities and a program that covers admission to area museums.

GRCC’s Office of Student Life is providing bags of food to students at weekly curbside deliveries, boosted by a $10,000 grant from Heart of West Michigan United Way and partners including Feeding America West Michigan. Between 45 and 75 students receive food bags each week.

Grand Rapids Community College Office of Student Life distributes bags of food to students at weekly curbside deliveries. (Photo: GRCC)

North Carolina

Stanly Community College’s (SCC’s) library has received two different grants to help fund computers and cleaning supplies for its Learning Resources Center (LRC). 

The Albemarle Rotary Club has provided $1,012 to buy Chromebooks, which students can check out to use at home.

The State Library of North Carolina awarded a $1,000 Library Services and Technology Act grant to the LRC. The grant will help to buy cleaning supplies to clean and sanitize books, computers and surfaces.

Wake Technical Community College has received two NSF Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program grants totaling $999,898. 

The first project, which has received $455,641, will create a building automation technology (BAT) program to prepare students for new and high-demand technical careers. The grant will help Wake Tech develop and implement a new curriculum and distribute materials across the North Carolina Community College System and beyond.

Wake Tech’s new BAT lab will include with modern instrumentation and new technology. The college will recruit new students — focused on enrolling more women — into multiple credentialed pathways.

The second grant project, which has received $544,257, has Wake Tech working with the Wake County Public School System (WCPSS) and WakeEd Partnership. The funding will allow math educators from WCPSS and Wake Tech to integrate industry-inspired activities into math lessons to help approximately 7,000 students see the relevance of math in a future career.

“Curriculum standards ask teachers to use relevant contexts when teaching mathematics,” said Wake Tech math professor Jay Martin. “Partnering with industry will provide teachers rich material to develop college and high school math curriculum. The new industry-based activities will also expose students to technical careers that are currently in high demand.”

About the Author

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