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Hirono Announces $1.4 Million for UH to Support Minority Students in STEM Degree Programs

Senator Mazie K. Hirono announced that the University of Hawaii will receive $1.4 million to help minority students studying science, technology, engineering, and math at UH’s seven community colleges to accelerate their transition to four year degree programs.

“Minority students face persistent barriers to pursuing STEM careers. This grant will help UH expand the number of Native Hawaiian and other historically underrepresented students pursuing STEM degrees over the next three years,” said Senator Hirono.

“This grant has ambitious goals,” said Louise Pagotto, Interim Chancellor of Kapiolani Community College. “Based on the successes that we have seen with the support provided to community college students in the Islands of Opportunity Alliance led by the University of Hawaii at Hilo, we know we can promote STEM education and increase the flow of students to baccalaureate degrees and the STEM workforce.”

“This new Bridge to the Baccalaureate Alliance: Strategic Transfer Alliance for Minority Participation award will provide Native Hawaiian and other underrepresented groups with enhanced opportunities to pursue education and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM),” said Jim Lewis, acting assistant director for the National Science Foundation’s Directorate for Education and Human Resources.  “The project will implement proven strategies for increasing the number of underrepresented students transferring annually into baccalaureate STEM degree programs at the University of Hawaii System and other four-year institutions in the nation. Awards like these fulfill NSF’s congressional mandate to broaden participation in science and engineering nationwide.”

The funds, awarded by the National Science Foundation as part of its Strategic Transfer Alliance for Minority Participation (STAMP) grant program, will support strategies and activities such as math acceleration for first and second year students, peer mentoring, and undergraduate research experiences to increase the number of students matriculating into baccalaureate STEM degree programs. The three year program will be led by Kapiolani Community College in an effort to double the number of Native Hawaiian and other underrepresented minority students transferring every year to baccalaureate STEM degree programs.

Last year, Senator Hirono introduced the Women and Minorities in STEM Booster Act. This bill would allow the National Science Foundation to award competitive grants for outreach, mentoring, and professional development programs that support recruitment and retention of women and minorities in STEM fields. The legislation would also allow for STEM education outreach programs at the elementary and secondary school level, and includes an emphasis on funding for mentoring programs, as well as programs to increase the recruitment and retention of women and minority university faculty.