$5M Grant to Increase Minorities in STEM Education in the Midwest
The National Science Foundation has awarded $5 million to continue funding the alliance, Iowa-Illinois-Nebraska Stem Partnership for Innovation in Research and Education (IINSPIRE), a part of the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP). The goal of the program is to broaden the participation of underrepresented minorities in STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math) in the Midwest.
"Grinnell College has supported the goals of this program for more than 20 years through the Grinnell Science Project, says Jim Swartz, Dack Professor of Chemistry at Grinnell. "We are very happy to be a part of this alliance of institutions with similar goals, and to have this recognition and funding from the National Science Foundation for our efforts."
Grinnell will receive $189,223 from the $5 million grant. This funding will support research opportunities for students from the target population as well as programming for the Grinnell Science Project.
"As a researcher who has studied diversity in the scientific workforce, I am pleased the National Science Foundation is providing $5 million to continue the work of the alliance,” says Grinnell College President Raynard S. Kington, co-principal investigator for the grant. “This important work has helped hundreds of students from underrepresented groups to become successful in a wide array of scientific careers. While significant progress has been made, there are still many more challenges to overcome."
The Grinnell Science Project develops the talents of all students interested in science and mathematics, especially those from groups underrepresented in the sciences — students of color, first-generation college students, and women in physics, mathematics, and computer science. It has completely changed the face of sciences at Grinnell College.
From 1992-1994, prior to the Grinnell Science Project, the College graduated an average of 42 science majors annually who were women and only eight were students of color. By 2015, these numbers had jumped to 77 women annually and 33 students of color. All Grinnell science students have benefitted from this community, and this approach to curricular development and mentoring has specially benefitted the groups of under-represented students who participate in the GSP pre-orientation program.
Swartz also leads the faculty and staff development efforts of the IINSPIRE Alliance for the member institutions. These efforts focus upon changes in curriculum and pedagogy to better support inclusion of all students.
"For example," Swartz says, "in the past grant we assembled resources and ran faculty and staff development workshops to support campuses developing and offering short bridge programs for students to make a strong transition from high school to studying science at the college level. We plan a similar effort to support campuses in developing a comprehensive approach to supporting students, in their courses, in research, and in building a supportive community among students."
About IINSPIRE LSAMP
IINSPIRE LSAMP consists of 16 two-year and four-year colleges and universities:
- Grinnell College
- Augustana College (Illinois)
- Des Moines Area Community College
- Doane University
- Eastern Iowa Community College District
- Hawkeye Community College
- Iowa State University
- Iowa Valley Community College District
- Kirkwood Community College
- Little Priest Tribal College
- Luther College
- Nebraska Wesleyan University
- University of Iowa
- University of Northern Iowa
- Upper Iowa University
- Wartburg College
Iowa State University serves as the lead institution.
The alliance focuses on extending and sustaining innovative student experiences on every campus to recruit and retain students in STEM. In these student experiences, IINSPIRE students become leaders through undergraduate research projects and internships, professional meetings and student organizations. They gain confidence as scientists, engineers and mathematicians through training, mentoring, support and transition programs.
In addition, the alliance emphasizes expanding inclusive mentoring and teaching practices; collaborating within and across campuses to provide opportunities for students and faculty; and studying, evaluating and improving student experiences and outcomes. Another focus of the alliance is student success through transition points, including math during the first two years of study, transfer from two-year to four-year institutions, and entry into STEM graduate programs. A collective and committed effort by alliance members is improving educational pathways and partnerships for STEM student success.
The principal investigator of IINSPIRE LSAMP is David K. Holger, associate provost of academic affairs and dean of the graduate college at Iowa State University. In addition to Kington, other co-principal investigators are:
Kim Linduska, executive vice president of academic affairs at Des Moines Area Community College
Harry A. Martyn, chair of the department of natural sciences at Little Priest Tribal College
Frederik Ohles, president of Nebraska Wesleyan University.
For more information about the program, refer to the IINSPIRE LSAMP Impact Report.