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Federal Education Grant Tops $1.1 Million for STEM Education

October 03, 2011

Angelo State University in collaboration with the Howard County Junior College District has been awarded an initial $1,177,817 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to increase the number of students, especially Hispanic and low income students, completing degrees in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

After a successful first year of funding, beginning with the start of the new federal fiscal year Oct. 1, ASU stands to gain an additional $3,912,650 over the following four federal fiscal years, bringing the total grant to $5.09 million. At current funding levels, the grant would be the largest Department of Education grant in ASU’s history.

The ASU grant is among 100 nationally going to colleges and universities designated as Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI) by the Department of Education. To qualify as an HSI, universities must have Hispanic enrollment exceeding 25 percent of the undergraduate population. ASU Hispanic enrollment surpassed 25 percent in the fall of 2009 and the university received the HSI designation in the fall of 2010. This fall ASU has Hispanic enrollment exceeding 27 percent.

ASU President Joseph C. Rallo said, “From an administrative standpoint, this grant is one of the benefits of achieving our strategic goal of earning HSI status. As a Hispanic Serving Institution, ASU qualifies for additional federal funding opportunities, such as this Title III grant, not previously available to us. Securing additional funding such as this is especially important as we work to offset the decrease in state funding and still maintain the quality education we deliver to our students.”

“From a practical standpoint,” he continued, “our HSI strategy will provide additional opportunities for our students to succeed and for ASU to work more closely with Howard College to address the educational needs of students in the 23 surrounding West Texas counties.”

The ASU grant will complement a previously announced five-year $4.3 million grant to Howard College to boost distance learning programs in STEM by providing expanded opportunities for students to finish their bachelor’s degrees in related fields at ASU.

Howard College President Dr. Cheryl T. Sparks said, “We are excited to be partnering so closely with ASU in this endeavor as we create new strategies to reach the designated population and get them interested in the STEM fields. The possibilities are endless and I am confident that through this grant and the partnership with ASU, we can make huge advances in building the areas of study within the STEM fields.”

Under the grant, ASU and Howard College will implement four strategies to increase the number of students who earn four-year degrees in STEM. First, they will offer outreach programs to K-12 students and families as well as communities to demonstrate the opportunities in STEM areas. Second, they will ease the processes of moving from Howard College to ASU in STEM fields by increasing access, student support, student alignment and articulation.

Additionally, the two institutions will improve science and math labs through renovation and equipment upgrades. And fourth, they will improve STEM education and access through increased faculty development in the related disciplines.

The primary service area for ASU and Howard College is made up of 23 counties in rural West Texas, where the regional population is 38 percent Hispanic. ASU and Howard College are the only four- and two-year public institutions of higher education within a 100-mile radius of San Angelo.

After successful completion of the first year of the grant, ASU would be eligible at current funding levels for $1,199,611 in the second year; $1,035,678, third year; $961,817, fourth year; and $715,544, fifth year.