The U.S. Department of Education bureau that provides funding to STEM programs in colleges with large populations of Latino and high-needs students has awarded Cañada College in Redwood City a $4.3 million grant to support students pursuing a career in science, technology, engineering or mathematics.

Paid out over five years, it’s one of the biggest grants the Department of Education’s Hispanic-Serving Institutions STEM Program has awarded to help Latino and high-needs students – including low-income students and those whose first language is not English – seeking degrees in the STEM field.

Nearly 40 percent of Cañada College’s 6,000 students are Latino.

“This is our largest grant that we’ve ever received in the past two years,” said Cañada President Jamillah Moore. “We have a very active STEM program here. We are thrilled to be recognized.”

The Hispanic-Serving Institutions STEM Program seeks to increase the number of Latino and high-needs students seeking degrees in the fields of science, technology, engineering or mathematics. The award to Cañada will also help the college develop model transfer and articulation agreements, which are formal partnerships between two or more colleges or universities that document the transfer policies for a specific academic program or degree. Cañada is developing agreements between it and four-year institutions in the STEM fields. Moore said the grant money will help create pathways for Cañada College students to transfer to four-year universities in the region, like Stanford and UC Berkeley, at a faster pace.

The grant was given to the college as part of a new campus project called “Generating Access to Navigate and Achieve in STEM,” which is designed to improve grades among underrepresented minority students in foundational math classes like algebra and statistics. Cañada will use the grant to hire more tutors to help students and to hire teachers for classes that will be added to meet a growing demand for the college’s STEM programs, some of which have enrollment wait lists, Moore said.  

Jamillah Moore, Cañada College

Jamillah Moore, Cañada College

“It allows us to bring in more teachers and tutors to get through the gridlock and encourages us to help students get on the right track,” said Moore. “It also helps increase their employability and success.”

As an example, Moore pointed to her school’s popular radiology technology department, which accepts roughly 40 students annually for the STEM-related program, leaving a long wait list. A radiology technologist specializes in diagnostic imaging, such as magnetic resonance, mammography and cardiovascular interventions. These imaging fields help detect diseases such as breast cancer, brain tumors and clogged arteries.

The U.S. Department of Education is awarding $92.1 million to 91 colleges serving Latinos and high-needs students in the U.S. in the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30, 2017, with roughly 43 percent of the money going to California-based schools.

“This grant will provide Cañada College with funds to implement innovative tools to support our students in achieving their STEM educational goals,” Moore said. “The jobs of the future depend on a STEM-educated workforce, and we look forward to helping to shape the next generation of STEM students.”

Last month, the U.S. Dept. of Education awarded Cañada College a grant of $3.2 million to support Latino and high-needs students through the Hispanic-Serving Institutions program. That grant is aimed at significantly improving the college’s transfer and completion rates of Latino and high-needs students over the next five years.

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