Mesa College’s Innovation Research Lab is a space where STEM students can hold club meetings, use for research, study, and workshops.

Mesa College’s Innovation Research Lab is a space where STEM students can hold club meetings, use for research, study, workshops, and much more. Photo courtesy Mesa College.

City and Mesa colleges receive $10M grant for Hispanic STEM Education

September 29, 2021 | San Diego Community College District

San Diego City and Mesa colleges are among the 33 California Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) that have received a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to increase equity among Hispanic and Latinx students pursuing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) degrees. The state funding announced by Senator Alex Padilla on September 17, 2021 is a five-year grant, each college will receive $1 million a year for five years.

Both San Diego Community College District (SDCCD) colleges were ranked Top 100 Colleges and Universities in the nation for Hispanics in Hispanic Outlook on Education Magazine’s annual listing in 2020—City College ranks No. 44 — Mesa College is No. 48.

Mesa College will use the Title III STEM funding for their project, STEM E3: Equity, Excellence and Éxito (Success), a grant proposal to reduce equity gaps and increase the academic success, retention, graduation, and transfer rates of Hispanic and low-income students in STEM. The grant focuses on wraparound STEM student support, improved STEM orientation, and professional learning  that improves the quality of academic instruction through an equity lens. Proposed activities include developing free online homework software, scaling up a peer mentor program, designing studio classrooms, curriculum redesign, and equity based professional learning. The college previously received HSI STEM funding in 2016 for their STEM Conexiones grant proposal to establish a STEM Center, a makerspace where STEM students have access to hands-on materials, technology, mentoring, and tutoring.

“The generous award not only boosts the number of Latinx and Hispanic STEM graduates at the community college level but also creates a breakthrough for these students to transfer to the UC and CSU systems to complete a 4-year degree or higher and ultimately grows diverse representation in STEM professions from professors, doctors, to engineers and architects — the people who shape our world every day,” said SDCCD Chancellor Carlos O. Turner Cortez.

City College was awarded a Developing HSI Grant in 2016 from the federal department of education to boost first-generation, low-income Latino student graduation and course-completion rates. The 2021 HSI STEM Grant will build upon existing campus initiatives, the Math, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) Program. The on-campus, academic support and transfer program focuses on shifting a learning culture inclusive of first-generation and traditionally underrepresented students, who desire to but did not believe they could succeed in a rigorous STEM major. MESA provides opportunities for community college students to apply for STEM-driven research and intern positions, which benefits them when they apply for transfer to 4-year universities in STEM majors.

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