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June 17, 2024

St. Francis College Among Recipients of Grant to Increase Diversity in STEM Fields

St. Francis College (SFC) is one of several Catholic institutions in New York State that were recently awarded a five-year $3.5 million grant by the National Science Foundation’s Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program, whose goal is to increase under-represented minority participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

Molloy University will be leading an alliance of seven member institutions of the Lower Hudson Valley Catholic Colleges and Universities Consortium (LHVCCUC) — which consists of 10 higher-education institutions across New York State — that will work together to increase the number of STEM baccalaureate and graduate degrees awarded to persons from groups under-represented in STEM fields, including Blacks and African-Americans, Hispanic and Latino Americans, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.

In addition to Molloy and SFC, the other colleges and universities who are the beneficiaries of the LSAMP program grant are Manhattan College, Mount Saint Mary College, St. John’s University, St. Joseph’s University New York and St. Thomas Aquinas College. The program’s director will be based at Molloy and spearhead a steering committee comprising members from each of the other six colleges and universities. As a grant beneficiary, SFC will receive approximately $70,000 a year over the course of the next five years.

The LHVCCUC institutions that were awarded the LSAMP grant will be taking a comprehensive look at the STEM learning ecosystem to determine how to best impact STEM student development and retention. The LSAMP grant will provide funding to help implement comprehensive, evidence-based, innovative and sustained strategies that ultimately result in the graduation of well-prepared, highly competitive students from under-represented populations who go on to pursue graduate studies or careers in STEM.

Intersectionality and a sense of belonging will be adopted by the LHVCCUC institutions as overarching frameworks to achieve four major goals:

  • increase the enrollment of under-represented minorities in STEM majors
  • improve first- to second-year retention
  • foster strong STEM/scientist identities through STEM enrichment activities
  • support successful entry into graduate study and STEM careers

Relevant findings will be shared with the LSAMP and broader communities to further inform literature related to the success of under-represented minority populations in STEM fields.

“The LSAMP grant will further enhance our students’ STEM experience by providing peer mentoring, tutoring and additional research opportunities, while lessening some of the financial barriers to STEM success,” noted Noemi Rivera, adjunct professor of biology and director of the STEM Resource Center at SFC. “We are excited to be able to provide stipends for books and to cover the costs of test fees, graduate school applications and travel to conferences for program participants, as we inspire under-represented students to persist in their STEM journey at SFC.”

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