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Research Experiences for Veterans, a special effort to encourage post-9/11 military veterans to pursue engineering and science careers, is just one example of the National Science Foundation’s funding opportunities available to community college faculty and students.
NSF has long recognized community colleges as both the nation’s leading source of technician education and as the higher education institutions where many engineers, scientists, teachers and other professionals in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) begin their postsecondary learning. NSF studies have found that almost half of science and engineering graduates with bachelor’s degrees attended a community college.
The millions of women, students of color, and low-income students who attend community colleges also add to NSF leaders’ interest in the sector because the agency’s mission includes increasing the participation of populations that have historically been underrepresented in STEM fields.
About 64 percent of the $350 million in NSF funding currently awarded to community colleges is through the Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program. Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (S-STEM) receive 24 percent of the NSF dollars allocated to community colleges. Ten percent supports Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Talent Expansion (STEP) programs at community colleges. The balance is spread among many other NSF programs.
The Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program focuses on preparing technicians for careers in high-tech fields that drive the nation’s economy. Grants support technician education and faculty professional development. A portion of ATE funds is available for colleges that have not had grants in the past 10 years; these grants provide $200,000 for up to three years. Larger grants are available for projects, centers and targeted research. (Proposals are due Oct. 20.)
The Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (S-STEM) program awards grants to institutions to provide scholarships to academically talented, low-income students who are pursuing associate, baccalaureate or graduate degrees in STEM fields. (Optional letters of intent are due July 13; proposals due Aug. 11.)
Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Talent Expansion (STEP) seeks to increase the number of students in STEM by supporting programs at undergraduate institutions that improve the quality of student learning with new pedagogical approaches or innovative student support services. (Proposals are due Sept. 27.)
NSF leaders at the Broadening Impact: NSF-Funded Projects at Two-Year Colleges Conference said they hope to expand community college participation beyond these three programs. They encouraged community college educators to search the NSF website thoroughly for funding opportunities and to sign up for the NSF’s free e-mail subscription service that will alert them to funding opportunities.
Lesser-known funding programs
Program directors also suggested two-year college educators consider submitting proposals for the following programs:
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