Xcel gives $15,000 for STEM grant

AURORA, Colo. – Community College of Aurora has been awarded a $15,000 grant from Xcel Energy for a pilot project aimed at increasing the number of minority, low-income students prepared to earn degrees and certificates in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM).

The project, entitled “Priming the STEM Pipeline,” is focused on transitioning students from Aurora Public Schools, a primary district partner, to CCA through this intensive pre-collegiate program. A four-part series of STEM college and career exposure workshops, math remediation, and intensive student support services will be embedded into the curriculum.

College Track Summit 54 (CTS54) will assist CCA in identifying and recruiting students and help design workshops that will utilize interactive, hands-on projects and simulation exercises with the goal of exciting students about the range of STEM-related areas of study and careers.

On a national level, STEM job opportunities are growing at a faster rate than those in any other career field. STEM careers offer excellent salaries and stable employment, with STEM graduates reporting higher incomes as well as lower rates of unemployment than graduates in other fields. Currently the number of STEM graduates coming out of the American educational system is not sufficient to meet industry needs. With these trends echoed locally, CCA is working to strengthen the STEM pipeline for students and businesses in the Aurora and east metro Denver areas it serves.

An initial student pool of 25 high school students from Rangeview High School will participate in activities on their own campus and at CCA during the 2014-15 school year. The STEM workshops will be buttressed by wraparound services that include information about the college admissions and application process, financial aid and scholarships, and college transition support and success services. Participating students also will enroll in CCA college preparatory math classes provided through concurrent enrollment to ensure that they are on track academically and ready to pursue STEM degrees.

In addition, CCA will develop a set of delivery-ready workshops and project activity materials for four different STEM fields and train multiple faculty members on the workshop goals, materials, and engagement strategies for at-risk high school students. The workshop materials and faculty train-the-trainer sessions funded through the grant will establish the infrastructure needed for future program replication and sustainability.

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