September 24, 2023
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CSUCI wins $5M federal grant


CSU Channel Islands has received a nearly $5 million federal grant to help a new initiative aimed at boosting diversity and enhancing success for students seeking to pursue a degree in science, technology, engineering or math.

The competitive $4,999,990 grant was open to the nation’s colleges and universities designated as Hispanic-Serving Institutions from the United States Department of Education. It funds Project AYUDAS (Articulating Your Undergraduate Degree and Academic Success in STEM) over five years, and is the third and largest federal STEM grant CSUCI has received in recent years, according to CSUCI’s Oct. 6 announcement of the grant.

Plans are underway to hire a project director for Project AYUDAS, and to develop STEM writing tutors and other measures aimed at preparing students for a career in science, technology, engineering or mathematics.

“This grant will help us mobilize the kind of coursework, classroom, peer, and instructor support that our STEM students need to do and be their best,” CSUCI Interim President Richard Yao said in the university’s news release.

Project AYUDAS is a multi-pronged program encouraging students in high school and community college to pursue STEM majors when entering CSUCI. The effort includes providing a smooth transition from community colleges with classes that are “sensitive to the different cultural backgrounds and learning needs” of students, and supporting these students academically through faculty and peers, according to CSUCI’s statement.

“This grant will allow us to go into high schools and community colleges where we hope to inspire students to pursue a STEM degree,” said Michelle Hasendonckx, CSUCI’s interim assistant vice president of Student Success and Equity Initiatives.

Project AYUDAS will involve an outreach effort with particular emphasis on Latino students or those who believe they lack the financial resources for a STEM degree. Several programs will be in place to help CSUCI students navigate the math and science courses serving as gateway courses to STEM majors.

There are more than 560 Hispanic-Serving Institutions across the nation, CSUCI officials said. A Hispanic-Serving Institution is defined as having an enrollment of undergraduate full-time equivalent students that is at least 25% Hispanic, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s website.