By Gina Martinez
U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) announced that Queens College would be receiving a nearly $1 million federal grant for its STEM program, an initiative to improve and expand the college’s capacity to serve Hispanic and other low-income students.
The funds are meant to help more Hispanic students graduate with majors in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). According to the program Hispanic students are currently the largest minority group in the public school system, but they score lower than the national averages on math and science achievement test and enroll in lower levels. Hispanics only make up 2 percent of the STEM workforce while 20 percent of the country’s youth population is Hispanic.
“STEM plays an important role in our city, state and nation and will continue to do so in the future,” Meng said. “It is crucial that we attract students to the STEM fields, especially traditionally underrepresented students, in order to meet the demand for STEM skills, and these federal funds will help accomplish that here in our borough. I thank Queens College for all its efforts in STEM, and I’m thrilled to deliver the good news about these critical funds.”
The $968,562 in funds were allocated by the U.S Department of Education. The project is renewable annually for up to five years, with a projected budget totaling $5.6 million. According to the Department of Education, colleges in the United States are not producing enough STEM graduates to meet workforce demands.
“This is a very innovative and transformational grant opportunity that will spark great growth in our STEM enrollment,” Queens College President Félix V. Matos Rodríguez said. “And the beauty of this Hispanic-serving institution’s grant is that it will help all students—not just Latinos and low-income students—because the curricular changes and programs developed will be open to all students here and at Queensborough. I am proud to say that our efforts at promoting the STEM fields at the college have already been rewarded, as over a third of our current undergraduates major in these important fields, and of those students, over half are minority students.”
The program will involve 24,000 students over the next five years at Queens College and Queensborough Community College, which both serve a significant number of Hispanics (26 percent of students at Queens College are Hispanic, and 32 percent at Queensborough Community College) and lower income students (39 percent of students at Queens College are lower income, 49 percent at Queensborough.)
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart