SFAZ+8: BUILDING CAPACITY FOR STEM PATHWAYS IN RURAL ARIZONA
$825,000 NSF Grant (DUE#1400687)
The SFAz+8 Program seeks to accelerate delivery of key STEM Pathway programs and activities through collaborations among a network of eight rural Arizona community colleges to prepare more students with STEM certifications and degrees that support local and state workforce demands.
The SFAz+8 Program is a 3-yr grant (DUE#1400687) awarded to Science Foundation Arizona (SFAz) by the National Science Foundation (NSF). In partnership with SFAz, Arizona’s eight (+8) rural community colleges are jointly participating in the program to develop a viable Rural Arizona Community College Network (Network), expand and strengthen their STEM Pathways through targeted initiatives and program implementation, and track the resulting changes in their STEM student pipelines.
The participating rural colleges are: Arizona Western College (AWC), Central Arizona College (CAC), Cochise College, Coconino Community College (CCC), Eastern Arizona College (EAC), Mohave Community College (MCC), Northland Pioneer College (NPC), and Yavapai College (YC).
The rationale for the SFAz+8 Program is to leverage the critical role that rural community colleges play in meeting local and state industry workforce needs, and to leverage SFAz’s role as mentor, facilitator, and leader in STEM Education and Community College STEM Pathways to assist the colleges in meeting these needs.
SFAz was founded in 2006 to help Arizona develop a diverse economy, a competitive education system and high quality, high-paying jobs. By maintaining its neutrality and a statewide view of related programs and activities, SFAz identifies and leverages best practices and creates opportunities among education and the private business sector to engage in meaningful initiatives.
This work leverages the colleges’ current partnerships with local K-12, industry and university partners. Colleges with experience and programs in one area will provide mentoring and participate, through the Network, with other colleges who may not have similar experience or resources. Together with SFAz, the colleges are exchanging best practices, lessons learned, and effective tools to foster success.
With support from this NSF grant, SFAz and the eight rural community colleges aim to:
1. Establish a thriving Rural Arizona Community College STEM Network that fosters college-to-college partnership and collaboration, enhanced industry engagement and, as a result, demonstrated improvements in the local and state workforce pipeline.
2. Build their STEM Pathways by expanding and/or improving components and elements of their STEM Pathways strategies and plans. Colleges are using the STEM Pathways Guide as a means for inventorying Pathway activities, prioritizing gaps, identifying and executing programs, and engaging in partnerships to strengthen college Pathways and optimize the utility of the STEM Pathways Guide.
3. Increase the pipeline of rural students pursuing STEM degrees meeting local workforce needs. Specifically, the colleges are collecting, analyzing, and aggregating data to measure increases in the number of:
- Students engaged in college outreach initiatives.
- High school students graduating with credits toward STEM degrees/credentials
- Students enrolled in STEM programs at community colleges.
- Students earning college credentials.