$1.3 million U.S. Dept. of Education grant gives CAC deeper resources to serve low-income students

February 26, 2009

PINAL COUNTY, Ariz. – The U.S. Department of Education has awarded Central Arizona College a $1,376,000 two-year grant to help increase educational opportunities for minority and low-income students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

“By the end of the project period, we expect the number of students graduating with a STEM degree to increase by at least 15 percent and CAC students will be able to transfer into baccalaureate engineering programs at the state universities,” John Irvine, vice president of academic programs and services/chief academic officer, explained.

At least 70 students will participate in new STEM courses launched by the grant and more than 300 students will directly benefit from the improvements in STEM instruction, technology, equipment and facilities.

The federal funding is part of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act – Hispanic Serving Institutions Grant Project.

The CCRRA-HSI program prioritizes increasing the number of Hispanic and low-income students attaining degrees in STEM fields and developing model transfer and articulation agreements between two-year Hispanic serving institutions and four-year colleges and universities in those fields.

The two-year grant project will:

  • Implement a system of academic monitoring that refers STEM students to academic tutors and advisors and involves many STEM students having Master Academic Plans (MAPS) that guide them through the learning process.
  • Increase enrollment in STEM degree programs by cultivating interest and ability in STEM disciplines.
  • Develop a pre-engineering program that articulates with the engineering degree program at Arizona State University and, in subsidiary, with other baccalaureate-level engineering programs at Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona.
  • Provide STEM faculty with professional development in active learning pedagogy, which has proven to be particularly effective with under-prepared students.
  • Use media capturing and podcasting to improve student accessibility to Central Arizona College and enable students to repeatedly review class content for improved understanding.
  • Provide STEM faculty with professional development in media capturing and podcasting so these technologies are used more effectively and with greater frequency as learning tools.
  • Increase the bandwidth of the district’s Wide Area Network (WAN) and Internet networks so the capacity exists to handle the additional load of media capturing and podcasting.
  • Remedy deficiencies in the current STEM equipment, technology, and facilities. This work includes developing a modern, well-equipped, multi-use science lab that in which science students are actively engaged in the learning process; creating a mobile computer lab that supports learning in scientific concepts, inquiry and analysis; and installing interactive learning technology in 11 science and math classrooms.


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