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CSUB awarded grant to launch Families for STEM program
August 14, 2012CSU Bakersfield has been awarded a $184,000 grant from the Toyota USA Foundation to develop and implement a new program called Families for STEM. The outreach and academic support program, which begins this fall, targets senior high school students and their parents, in addition to first-year college students, with the specific goal of increasing the number of students with diverse backgrounds who pursue and graduate with a degree in science, technology, engineering or mathematics.
To help facilitate the outreach component of Families for STEM, CSUB has partnered with the Parent Institute for Quality Education (PIQE), a statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to educational reform by motivating parents, especially low-income immigrant parents, to become actively involved in their children's education.
David Valladolid, National President & CEO of PIQE and Board Member of the National American STEM Alliance, asserts that "the STEM fields are growing faster than employment demands in non-STEM fields. The very future of the California and national economy depends on the preparation of college graduates in the STEM fields."
A report from the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering reveals that for minority students in particular, the number of students opting to pursue STEM degrees has declined in recent years. Yet in California alone, projections show that by 2014, 75 percent of the fastest growing occupations will require substantial math and science preparation.
Grant funds will allow CSUB faculty and PIQE staff to implement its STEM-focused curriculum that will be targeted to Kern High School District students who demonstrate a high capacity for success in STEM fields — for example, high PSAT math scores and/or successful completion of college preparatory math and science courses. Prospective students will also receive advice to help them navigate the college test preparation and application system. Additionally, workshops scheduled for Wednesday evenings beginning October 3 will educate parents on the benefits of higher education and how to foster their children's interest in STEM fields.
Sonia Rodriguez, PIQE Executive Director in Bakersfield, stated, "parents play a key role in the educational success of their children. Our STEM program is designed to inform parents of the opportunities to help guide their students into the STEM pipeline. We are proud to partner with CSUB to create future STEM graduates."
Kamel Haddad, CSUB associate dean for the School of Natural Sciences, Mathematics, and Engineering, added, "high school engagement is a key component in increasing students' interest in STEM fields and ensuring that they are academically prepared to excel in their college-level STEM studies."
Families for STEM will also assist college freshmen and provide them with academic tools to master the rigors of college-level mathematics and science curriculum.
"It is critical that students quickly acquire the skills needed for college success," said Haddad. "Families for STEM will give them the necessary tools once they are enrolled at CSUB."
Such services include science and math peer-tutoring, daily access to new state-of-the-art computer lab facilities, and, for especially difficult courses, additional problem-solving sessions tailored specifically to course content. Current and prospective students will have access to a faculty advisor, who will ensure that students are aware of all required courses necessary to complete their chosen degree and other university resources to ensure their academic success.