CSUSB Receives Two $5 Million Federal Grants to Help STEM Majors

Investing in education that focuses on the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics

By LatinoLA Contributor
Published on LatinoLA: October 8, 2016

CSUSB Receives Two $5 Million Federal Grants to Help STEM Majors

Cal State San Bernardino has been awarded two federal student success grants, each for $5 million, to work with area community colleges to provide scholarships and academic support to Hispanic and low-income students in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

The two grants – $5 million from the U.S. Department of Education and $5 million from the National Science Foundation – each take a different approach to help students in the STEM fields, said Kirsten Fleming, dean of the CSUSB College of Natural Sciences, which received the two grants.

"Our goal is to work with our local community colleges to empower Hispanic, low-income and other underrepresented students to succeed academically, improve persistence and graduation rates in STEM disciplines and provide needed scholarships and support for financially disadvantaged STEM students," Fleming said.
U.S. Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Redlands, said the two grants would help provide needed support for students in the STEM fields.

"Investing in education that focuses on the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics is essential to preparing our rising workforce to compete in a 21st century economy," Aguilar said. "I'm also pleased to see a concerted effort to support Hispanic Serving institutions, which will help diversify the STEM sector and empower students with the academic instruction they need to succeed."

Under the Department of Education Hispanic Serving Institution-STEM grant, CSUSB faculty members will work with faculty members and student services staff members at Chaffey, San Bernardino Valley, Riverside City, Victor Valley and Crafton Hills community colleges to develop and implement a comprehensive developmental advising program tailored to the unique needs of first-time freshmen and upper division transfer students in the STEM fields.

The DOE grant will also enable the university to boost its leading-edge advising and predictive analytical technologies to enable effective, proactive academic advising.
"Enhancing the dedicated student advising structure within the College of Natural Sciences, and the implementation of robust technological solutions will allow CSUSB to identify at-risk STEM students and plan for intervention in a timely and effective manner," said Fleming, who is the DOE grant principal investigator.

The grant from the National Science Foundation, named S-STEM for "Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics," will fund a collaborative effort between CSUSB and four community colleges – Barstow College, College of the Desert, Imperial Valley College and San Bernardino Valley College, said Kimberley Cousins, a professor in the university's chemistry and biochemistry department and the NSF grant's principal investigator.

The S-STEM program will provide financial, curricular and co-curricular support for inland Southern California's lowest-income STEM scholars, Cousins said. The co-curricular support on each campus builds on existing programs and is informed by an understanding of factors that contribute most to student success.

"The grant will fund a program that will provide scholarships to community college and transfer students who are pursuing degrees in biology, chemistry, biochemistry, computer science, computer engineering, geology, mathematics or physics," Cousins said. "The program will also provide academic and other support to increase the persistence of these academically talented, low-income students."

Support activities include mentoring prior to transfer, learning cohorts and research activities at CSUSB, Cousins said.

"The most important element at CSUSB is the assigned faculty mentor in the discipline in which the student is majoring; these advisers serve as both academic and career advisers, and scholars will meet at least quarterly with them," Cousins said. "These are all experienced faculty members, one in each participating department."

Other support mechanisms locally include: cohort courses for transfer students in their first year on campus; enhanced opportunities for research and internships; career and graduate focused workshops; and near-peer mentoring.

Each of the community colleges has sub-awards and will all administer scholarships locally, with awardees having preference for scholarships if they transfer to CSUSB. Each campus has a unique student support model based on local needs and resources, but all include a component of student/faculty mentoring.

At College of the Desert, the grant will be used in concert with the college's Math, Engineering and Science Achievement (MESA) Program, and faculty mentors will use innovative student support systems to insure its STEM Scholars' success. Scholars will be drawn from the college's pool of extremely talented, traditionally underrepresented and financially disadvantaged STEM majors, said Carl Farmer, COD's MESA program director.

"Our gifted STEM Scholars will serve as STEM ambassadors, and participate in community outreach science and engineering demonstrations that will inspire young elementary and middle school students to follow their footsteps to become Coachella Valley's talented STEM workforce of tomorrow," Farmer said.

At San Bernardino Valley College, the grant "gives us the opportunity to continue to support and encourage our students -- many of whom are the first in their families to attend college -- to pursue exciting careers in science, technology, engineering or math," said Susan Bangasser, dean of the San Bernardino Valley College Science Division.

"Specifically, the grant will be used to increase supplemental instruction and tutoring in STEM fields, provide students majoring in STEM fields with access to specialized counseling services, award STEM-related scholarships, and create opportunities for students to make early career connections by visiting STEM-focused employers and universities," said Bangasser, who added that the partnership with CSUSB as a result of the grant "will allow students from our STEM program to transition seamlessly into the one on their campus, which will dramatically increase the likelihood of their successful completion of a degree program and entry into a rewarding STEM-related career. "

For more information on the CSUSB HSI STEM or S-STEM grants, contact the university's Office of Strategic Communication at (909) 537-5007 and visit news.csusb.edu.

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