National Science Foundation awards HCC $1.47 million for STEM students

Sep 15, 2022

The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded Houston Community College and San Jacinto College $1,478,965 for three additional years to continue their joint project titled, “Louis Stokes B2B Alliance: Harris County Community College Alliance (HCCCA).”

In 2019 the HCCCA was awarded a three-year grant for $1,477,907 to increase STEM participation by underrepresented students, and to respond to the need for a more diverse and technically skilled workforce in Harris County. The new award, which begins Oct. 1. 2022, allows the alliance to continue its work of engaging students in STEM disciplines, provide peer and faculty mentoring, summer research and internships, an annual research symposium, and STEM seminar series.

The goal is to help students connect with each other for support through communities to develop their own STEM identity and networking skills with STEM professionals. A determined STEM mindset, gained from this program, significantly increases the confidence to successfully transfer from HCC to a four-year STEM degree program.

The first year of the project that began in 2019 was oriented toward developing three communities. The Community of Scholars focuses on academics, the Community of Experience focuses on experience-based teaching and learning, and the Community of Research focuses on providing research skills and opportunities for Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) students. Through the third year of the program at HCC more than 300 students earned stipends from $500 to $5,000. 

“We’ve awarded over $400,000 in stipends to students,” said Jeff Stear, HCC engineering program director and co-principal investigator, “The stipends students receive are based on points they earn for participating in a variety of events and activities designed to prepare and encourage them to transfer to a four-year college.”

These activities would not be possible without a committed core of nine outstanding HCC STEM faculty,  and include weekly meetings about topics ranging from meta-cognition and research themes, to socially responsible STEM practice, summer research experiences with world-class researchers at UH, Rice, UT Tyler, PVAMU, and UHD, hands-on projects, STEM workshops, STEM events, study groups, and academic advising. 

The NFS’s LSAMP program assists universities and colleges in diversifying the STEM workforce through efforts to significantly increase the number of historically underrepresented minority students successfully earning four-year degrees in STEM. 

The HCCCA B2B program is a bridge to a bachelor’s degree program within the larger LSAMP program, and is one of only three such community college alliances in the U.S. It uses guided pathways that clearly identify education and career goals so that students have easier transitions to four-year colleges and universities. By providing pathways and preparing students with skills they need for continuing to a four-year institution, students are more committed to their education and earning their degrees.

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