Eleven minority-serving community colleges will bring NASA missions to students through the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars (NCAS) program. The colleges will receive grant funding over the next four years to increase diversity and inclusion in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields by implementing NASA’s evidence-based NCAS model on its campus.
Through the program, students engage in NASA missions and research through online research, activities and connections to NASA-affiliated research labs, museums, industry partners and NASA internships. Students who complete the five-week online course are invited to a four-day, on-campus engineering design and robotics competition.
During the 2019 pilot program, students from California’s Cerritos Community College took tours of labs, were mentored in their robotics competition by experts from Disney, Esri, Boeing and the Aerospace Corporation, and worked collaboratively to solve problems.
Cerritos is one of five pilot colleges to participate in the program for 2020. Those returning colleges will provide mentorship and serve as a resource for new colleges.
The other colleges participating in the 2020 program are College of the Desert, Cypress College and Southwestern College in California; Essex County College and Union County College in New Jersey; Hinds Community College and Meridian Community College in Mississippi, Lonestar Community College-CyFair in Texas; Norwalk Community College in Connecticut; and Atlanta Metropolitan State College in Georgia.
The program is funded by NASA’s Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP). Each grant award has a four-year performance period and a maximum value of $25,000 for fiscal year 2020.
Río Hondo College has received $5,000 from Soroptimist International of Whittier and $10,000 from Credit Union of Southern California for its Cooperative Agencies Resources for Education (CARE) Program, which provides educational support services and activities for academically under-prepared, welfare-dependent, single parents.
“This show of support from our Soroptimist sisters and the Credit Union of Southern California is a terrific testimonial to our community partnerships and the impact of Río Hondo College (RHC) in helping residents overcome challenges to pursue their educational dreams,” said CARE specialist Laura Verdugo.
This spring, 13 students in the CARE program will be among the more than 1,900 RHC students earning degrees.
“Part of Río Hondo College’s mission is to ensure the promise of higher education reaches all members of our community, and especially those who otherwise would be unable to pursue their education,” said Superintendent/President Arturo Reyes.
Des Moines Area Community College will use a $5,500 grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation to support its adult literacy and education efforts. In particular, the college will use the grant to provide scholarships to students in its High School Equivalency Diploma Program and to fund staff time in support of its Adult Literacy Center.
Harford Community College (HCC) has received a $33,961 Career and Technical Education Perkins Innovation grant from the state. The funding supports HCC’s Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) program.
P-TECH provides a pathway sequence that starts in ninth grade and culminates in the attainment of an associate of applied science degree in computer information systems or information assurance and cybersecurity, as well as a high school diploma. The program, which will begin at the college this fall, will be offered in partnership with Harford County Public Schools, the lead institution, and the Communications and Electronics Command.
The grant specifically will support online professional development for P-TECH instructors, mentors and internship supervisors, and ensure instruction is aligned with industry standards.
“Cybersecurity is one of the fastest-growing industries in Maryland and across the nation, and our P-TECH graduates will be uniquely positioned to enter that industry with years’ worth of training and experience,” said HCC Interim President Jacqueline Jackson.
Quinsigamond Community College’s (QCC’s) Future Focus got a boost from a $450,000 state grant. The program supports adult learners with adult basic education programs and creates a pathway to degree and certificate programs. It covers all tuition and fees, books, school supplies (and bus passes, if needed), in addition to career and academic advising.
“Those in our community who are under-represented and under-served have benefited greatly from our Future Focus program. Increasing the award amount will enable us to assist more people in their quest for a better future,” said QCC President Luis Pedraja.
Since it launched in 2010, more than 300 nontraditional students have been through the program.
Hinds Community College can provide students with more access to technology thanks to a $5,000 Women’s Foundation of Mississippi 2020 Rapid Response Grant. The college will use a portion of the funds, which went to the college’s Single Stop program, to buy laptop computers for any current female student who needs one for the summer semesters.
The remaining funds will go toward additional wraparound services and issued through the college’s emergency financial assistance fund.
Meridian Community College has received a $250,000 grant from the Gene Hass Foundation that will help the college complete a new CNC learning lab for its precision machining program. It will be named the Gene Haas Advanced Manufacturing Center, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony tentatively scheduled for August.
“This validates our program is having a positive impact on filling the skills gap and will help fund efforts to expand our program,” said Brian Warren, division chair of the college’s industrial technology and a precision machining instructor.
Central Piedmont Community College’s emergency fund is growing thanks to a $15,000 AT&T grant. The fund provides immediate, short-term, financial support to students and employees who have emergency financial needs related to housing, utilities, medical expenses, food, technology and more.
Aiken Technical College (ATC) has received $20,000 from the Fluor Foundation’s Military Support Coalition to help veterans pursuing education. The grant will help student veterans with living expenses while they are enrolled at the college. Currently, more than 100 veterans are enrolled.
Since 2013, the Fluor Foundation has donated $135,000 to the ATC Foundation in support of our student veterans.