Washtenaw Community College, U-M receive federal funds to increase equity in STEM fields

Microscope. (Pixabay)

ANN ARBOR – Washtenaw Community College, the University of Michigan and four other higher education institutions recently received a $3 million award from the National Science Foundation to improve opportunities in STEM fields for underrepresented minority students.

The award was secured through the Michigan Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation of which the two Ann Arbor schools are members, including Michigan State University, Wayne State University, Western Michigan University and Mott Community College.

The schools have been working together since 2017 when NSF funded an earlier phase of the MI-LSAMP program, with a $4.25 million grant. The NSF grants are distributed over a five-year period.

The program aims to increase retention, graduation and achievements among students who are traditionally underrepresented by increasing STEM opportunities.

“Opening STEM doors to minority students is critical to our shared goal of increasing equity and is especially important as we quickly forge new ground in mobility, smart cities and technological advancements that will shape tomorrow,” WCC President Dr. Rose B. Bellanca said in a statement. “We are pleased to continue partnering with MI-LSAMP and the other schools in this mission.”

Each school will develop and execute their own initiatives as well as share some programming.

In WCC’s case, it offers a three-week summer intensive of career workshops and speakers, including tours of four-year universities. The program focuses on conflict management, critical thinking, life and team skills, financial aid and literacy and study skills.

Internships and research opportunities in math, physics, engineering, chemistry, biology and health sciences are offered to students. This is in addition to WCC’s STEM Scholars program, which provides students with dedicated mentors, advisors and tutors who hold weekly lunch-and-learn sessions during the school year.

The cohort sees an average of 60 new students each fall. Students can now apply for the STEM Scholars program for the Winter 2022 semester.