With new federal funding, community colleges can work to increase the number of Hispanic and low-income students getting degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. Several colleges have received Hispanic-Serving Institutions STEM and Articulation Program grants from the U.S. Education Department (ED).
Florida’s Indian River State College (IRSC) was awarded a $4.96 million grant for the STEM Pioneers project, which will focus on student success in undergraduate STEM coursework and develop a clear transfer pathway between IRSC and the University of Florida.
San Diego City and Mesa colleges are among the 33 California Hispanic-Serving Institutions to receive a $5 million grant. Mesa College will use the funding for its STEM E3: Equity, Excellence and Éxito (Success) project to reduce equity gaps and increase the academic success, retention, graduation and transfer rates of Hispanic and low-income students in STEM.
City College will build upon its Math, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) Program, which provides opportunities for students to apply for STEM-driven research and intern positions that, in turn, benefit them when they apply to transfer to four-year universities in STEM majors.
Lone Star College-Tomball (LSC) in Texas will use its $2.8 million grant to develop the Science First Success Center, which will incorporate central academic support and guided pathways to streamline STEM degree requirements and support faculty and staff through professional development.
The five-year grant also will help to increase the transfer rate between LSC-Tomball and the University of Houston-Downtown.
More ED grants
In addition, LSC-Tomball received a $1.5 million Strengthening Institutions grant from ED. The college will use the funds to increase overall enrollment as well as persistence and graduation rates through the Tomball Experience project, as well as strengthen employer partnerships.
Students participating in the Tomball Experience project will receive academic, career and financial counseling to prepare them to enter the workforce. The project will incorporate strategies designed to align academic support practices to changing workforce needs through the LSC-Tomball Career and Transfer Center.
“Many of our first time in college or first generation in college students have trouble navigating their way through college,” said LSC-Tomball President Lee Ann Nutt in a release. “I am excited that we are able to develop an all-encompassing support system to help them on their journey to a better life.”
Other community colleges also recently were awarded Strengthening Institutions grants, which are geared to help colleges expand their capacity to serve low-income students.
Wallace State Community College in Alabama will use its $2.1 million grant to enhance student success through Pathways Linking U to Success (PLUS). The project looks to help students complete a certificate or degree. It includes shifting the frontline success advising and financial aid staff from a transactional relationship with students to that of a case-management approach.
Another Alabama college – Wallace Community College-Dothan – will receive about $2.2 million. That will fund new, self-contained student advising centers on both the Dothan and the Sparks campuses.
A $2.25 million Strengthening Institutions grant to Washington’s Highline College will help the college expand advising support for students and professional development for staff and faculty. Some of Highline’s goals include increasing pass rates in gateway courses, such as math and English, redesigning the student onboarding experience and transforming advising.
Eastern West Virginia Community & Technical College also has received a $2.25 million grant. The funding will support the redesign of an advising model, enhance career services, expand instructional innovation with the augmentation of online learning, improve data analysis, enhance data-driven decision making for assessment improvements and increase the capacity of Eastern’s Foundation.
“This kind of comprehensive and innovative support will boost and expand the ability for Eastern to better serve, retain, and foster success for its students,” said Monica Wilson, dean of student access and success.
The Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) will use $8.5 million in funding to provide workforce training to Phoenix residents. It will tap American Rescue Plan Act funds for free training and education to residents affected by the pandemic in the hardest-hit industries of hospitality, food service, retail and families with young children.
Residents can receive training for several industries, including bioscience and healthcare, information technology, manufacturing and construction. Participants will receive a monthly stipend to assist with emergency expenses such as transportation and childcare.
As part of the $8.5 million, the city council approved $1.5 million to MCCCD’s workforce and economic development office to provide education and workforce navigation services to participants, such as case management and access to employer networking and hiring events.
With a $3 million ED grant, Hudson County Community College (HCCC) will expand educational opportunities for Hispanic and Latino students through The Golden Door/La Puerta Dorada project.
HCCC’s project includes developing an English as a Second Language (ESL) Pathway Academy, which will revamp the ESL curriculum offerings. The college will redesign student support services through the development of an ESL Resource Center and implement a faculty/ staff professional development program with curricula that address equity, inclusion and the educational needs of adult English-language learners.
Tulsa Community College (TCC) raised more than $475,000 during its 2021 Vision Dinner. That’s the most it has ever raised at this annual event.
In a TCC student survey, 40% said their financial situation is worse than before the pandemic and they are struggling to pay for college. During Vision Dinner and a live-ask, donors pledged $50,000 for one-time scholarships to be awarded in fall 2022.
“It is amazing to see our community respond and value a college education,” said Tim Lyons, TCC Foundation chair and one of TCC’s 50 Notable Alumni recognized at the event. “Personally, as someone who benefited from taking classes at TCC, I am proud to support an institution that provides affordable access to higher education with quality academic programs and personalized support.”
Whatcom Community College (WCC) has received $3 million from the National Science Foundation to improve undergraduate STEM education participation. The research project will center around creating and testing an instructional framework that STEM faculty and departments can use to define and adopt inclusive, student-centered STEM teaching and learning.
WCC will partner with Western Washington University and the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley.
“WCC STEM faculty have been implementing research-based instructional strategies for years, primarily in the form of student-centered activities that provide multiple ways for students to discover and demonstrate their learning. These strategies are proven to improve learning in STEM courses, particularly for first-generation college students or students from traditionally underrepresented groups,” Vice President of Instruction Ed Harri said in a release.