The National Science Foundation has awarded $3 million over five years to an alliance of Upstate colleges and universities, including Monroe Community College and Rochester Institute of Technology, to enroll and graduate more students from underrepresented populations from science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) degree programs.
In response to pressing local needs and national goals, the Upstate Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (ULSAMP) was formed to attract and maximize the potential of students from underrepresented populations (African-American, Latino American and Native American). This will be achieved through a two-pronged approach—implemented across the alliance—that includes enhancing recruitment of both first-time freshmen and transfer students, and by providing new opportunities to enhance the graduation rate of the targeted populations. Member institutions include Clarkson University, Cornell University, Monroe Community College, Onondaga Community College, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Rochester Institute of Technology and Syracuse University.
RIT will receive $420,000 over the five-year period; MCC will receive $270,000. RIT’s funding will enhance its articulation agreements with area community colleges while supporting a range of research internships for students. MCC’s portion will go toward its Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP), a state-funded program that provides a comprehensive array of academic and support services to help underrepresented and economically disadvantaged students successfully transition to college life and explore career opportunities in the STEM fields. RIT and MCC currently partner on a variety of programs aimed at underrepresented populations, including the Bridges to Baccalaureate and Rochester Biomedical Experience.
“The National Science Foundation has been wonderfully supportive of local efforts to attract students, especially minority students, to the STEM fields,” says MCC President R. Thomas Flynn. “This grant provides the resources needed for MCC and the alliance colleges to attract, educate and inspire the next generation of innovators for our community.”
“RIT has set forth a vision for the future that incorporates diversity into the mainstream functioning of the institution,” adds Eulas Boyd, RIT assistant provost. “Support from the National Science Foundation is extremely important in helping us ensure the success of an increasing number of students coming to us from underrepresented populations.”
According to the NSF Science and Engineering Indicators, the gap in educational attainment between underrepresented groups and Caucasian students remains wide, especially in science and engineering fields. The ULSAMP offers the opportunity to reach 60,000 potential students across the member institutions, thus doubling the number of minority graduates from these targeted programs.
NSF funds research and education in most fields of science and engineering that are administrated through formed alliances between universities and colleges. It does this through grants and cooperative agreements to more than 2,000 colleges, universities, K-12 school systems, businesses, informal science organizations and other research organizations throughout the United States.
The ULSAMP program is supported by the NSF HRD-0703452. For more information about ULSAMP, go to www.ulsamp.org.