The National Science Foundation has awarded a grant of $649,323 to Naugatuck Valley Community College for support of the project, "Naugatuck Valley's STEM Inclusive Opportunity Network." Under the direction of Rebecca S. Binney, Associate Professor of Biology; Marian Zerbi, Associate Professor of Mathematics; and Peter S. Angelastro, Associate Professor of Biology; the award started March 1, 2019 and ends February 29, 2024. The project is aligned with the objectives of the National Science Foundation’s Scholarships in STEM program.
The program, NSF Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Program (S-STEM) recognizes that a well-educated science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce is a significant contributor to maintaining the competitiveness of the U.S. in the global economy. It addresses the need for a high quality STEM workforce in disciplines supported by the program and for the increased success of under-represented students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Recognizing that financial aid alone cannot increase retention and graduation in STEM, the program provides awards to Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) to fund scholarships and support recruitment, retention, transfer, and graduation in STEM. The S-STEM program encourages collaboration of STEM faculty and partnerships among institutions of higher education, local businesses and industries.
The program seeks to increase the number of low-income, academically talented students with demonstrated financial need to obtain degrees in STEM and enter the workforce or graduate programs. It will improve the education of future scientists, engineers, and technicians. Designed to promote knowledge of STEM career paths, the program supports diversity, role models, adversity training, five-week summer transitional programs for math and English, and participation in research, internships, or job shadowing. It features activities that ensure student success beyond NVCC graduation through required university transfer opportunities and job placement. The overlapping yet diverse backgrounds, specialties, and experiences of NViSION faculty ensure that each individual component of the program will have an expert leader.
Professor Binney, who led the grant application, described how this initiative would be implemented at Naugatuck Valley Community College (NVCC). “Approximately 75 students would be provided with scholarships from $1000 to $5000 per year to unify and support a diverse group of academically-talented, financially-disadvantaged STEM students who have aspirations of successfully transitioning into a Bachelor’s degree program or entering the STEM workforce with an Associate’s degree.”
NVCC President Daisy Cocco De Filippis, Ph.D. noted, “The NSF grant is a testimony to the good work and dedication of our faculty and another fine opportunity to support our students who aspire to continued studies in baccalaureate programs in STEM careers. We at NVCC are very grateful, and celebrate with enthusiasm this outstanding achievement.”