Grant to Encourage STEM Pursuit 

Ventura County K-8 school children learn from CI students at the CI Science Carnival.

A $6 million federal grant will be used to help inspire and educate the next generation of science, technology, engineering and mathematics graduates at CSU Channel Islands (CI) and nearby community colleges. The grant, awarded to CI by the U.S. Department of Education, will be disbursed over five years in installments of $1.2 million. It targets Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs)—which designation the University received in 2010—with the goal of enhancing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) opportunities for Hispanic and low-income students. 

The grant was secured through the efforts of CI Professor of Chemistry Phil Hampton and his colleagues: Sadiq Shah, Associate Vice President for Research & Sponsored Programs; Cindy Wyels, Professor of Mathematics; and Don Rodriguez, Associate Professor of Environmental Science & Resource Management. 

“It’s important that we prepare the next generation of graduates to tackle the changing world environment and make scientific and technological advances,” said Hampton, the grant’s principal investigator. “With the tight economic times and challenges of growing as an institution, this grant gives us the resources to reach out to students, increase their knowledge of science and fulfill our mission of being student centered.” 

The grant will enable CI to partner with Oxnard College, Ventura College, Moorpark College and Santa Barbara City College, as well as with Ventura County K-12 schools, to inspire Hispanic and low-income students to pursue STEM disciplines and support them with services to transfer, graduate and succeed. Though the grant targets underrepresented minorities, the activities and services it funds will encourage interest and success in STEM disciplines among all students of all ethnicities. 

“This grant will benefit many students throughout Ventura County and enable CSU Channel Islands to continue to provide an outstanding education to students pursuing bachelor’s degrees in STEM disciplines,” said CI President Richard R. Rush. “Moreover, the additional funds will strengthen our partnerships with community colleges to help students transfer to CI and be successful in STEM majors.” 

The effort, dubbed “Project ACCESO” (Achieving a Cooperative College Education through STEM Opportunities), will provide tutoring, peer mentoring, research and employment opportunities, STEM equipment and facilities, outreach into local schools, analysis of STEM curriculum and student performance, and collaborative efforts on all campuses to engage, retain and graduate STEM students. Outreach programs will include hands-on science demonstrations in local classrooms and “Science Nights” where students and parents will learn about STEM career paths. A STEM center for students is scheduled to open on the CI campus in January and a campus greenhouse is also planned. 

“We’re excited that this grant will help encourage and educate the next generation of innovators, scientists and mathematicians right here in Ventura County,” said Hampton.