By Justina Ziegler
The Science Foundation of Arizona (SFAz) selected Pima Community College through a competitive grant process to participate in their National Science Foundation KickStarter Program for Community College Hispanic Serving Institutions.
Libby Howell, Executive Director of Media, Community and Government Relations for Pima said, “This is a program to enable community colleges to be more competitive in applying for grants from the National Science Foundation.”
SFAz is a non-profit organization created from the collaboration of three Arizona CEO business organizations: Greater Phoenix Leadership, Southern Arizona Leadership and the Flagstaff 40.
These CEO groups made a five-year commitment to fund SFAz’s operating costs, which are now raised through corporate and individual donations.
SFAz said its purpose is to diversify and strengthen Arizona’s economy by investing in scientific and engineering areas of greatest economic importance to Arizona, facilitating strategic collaborations between Arizona research institutions and industry, supporting effective education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and attracting and retaining world-class jobs and talent.
SFAz issued a call for applications to Community College Hispanic Serving Institutions within the United States to participate in an intensive, comprehensive technical assistance program designed for a 2-year grant period to prepare them to compete successfully for federal funds focused on student recruitment and retention in STEM fields. Pima was a selected applicant.
SFAz said the KickStarter Program provides HSIs with a blueprint to build and sustain a strong STEM foundation, including innovations in STEM education, to enable Hispanic STEM student success and has one main goal:
“Improving recruitment and retention of Hispanic students at Community College Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) in STEM-related fields by enhancing their participation in NSF-funded initiatives.”
It plans to do this by addressing the needs of each participating institution, including Pima, in a customized way that involves the administration, faculty, staff, and community partners such as regional universities, workforce employers and researchers.
SFAz’s Technical Assistance Team will assist Pima to use their STEM Pathways Model and Resource Guide to develop Pima pathways strategies, identify areas in their pathways plan that need attention, and prioritize the programs that are most ready for funding.
Then the SFAz Technical Assistance Team will assist Pima in developing proposals to federal agencies whose funding objectives can be met by these programs.
Proposal requests for funding to support the priorities of a strategic STEM Pathways plan will show it as a quality investment for the funder and help it compete more favorably with review panels.
SFAz said they have 3 main objectives in mind:
- To increase the number of Community College HSIs who compete successfully as lead grantees on NSF projects.
- To strengthen chosen institution’s STEM infrastructure, and increase their capacity to increase recruitment and retention success rates among Latino students.
- To engage institutions with a broader range of partners in K-12, industry, four-year institutions, and researchers to help sustain STEM programs and improve community college HSIs’ federal program competitiveness.
This grant from the SFAz will help not only the Hispanic student body at Pima, but all STEM students acquire an even better education and aid them in future job placement programs.
Barak Obama summed up the importance of science-related fields and the institutions that teach and support those fields best:
“Science is more than a school subject, or the periodic table, or the properties of waves. It is an approach to the world, a critical way to understand and explore and engage with the world, and then have the capacity to change that world…”