Faculty from Across Nation Attend Regional NSF Grant Writing Workshop at BMCC

July 31, 2019

More than 40 faculty and staff from Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) from across the country attended a two-day National Science Foundation (NSF) grant-writing workshop in the Fiterman Hall Conference Center at Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY) on July 29 and 30.

The workshop, supported by BMCC and the NSF HSI National Resource Hub for STEM education included presentations and information on how to best compete for NSF HSI funding. Over the past five years, BMCC has secured $6 million in NSF funding.

The workshop was part of the National Resource Hub’s effort to build collaborations across the country that not only support existing STEM research, but also increase it and encourage the overall growth of STEM education programs at HSIs.

BMCC Interim President Karrin Wilks welcomed the attendees, some who made the trip to New York from places as far away as Texas, Colorado and Puerto Rico.

“Improving STEM outcomes and opportunities, especially for our students of color, is absolutely vital to advancing equity and opportunity,” said Wilks. “It’s the work we are all passionate about.”

The workshop’s organizers say they hope faculty participants bring back a helpful skill set to their HSI that leads to the growth of STEM programs.

Attendees were encouraged to seek advice from successful NSF grant applicants, ask specific questions to experienced awardees and to closely analyze sample grant proposals and learn which pitfalls to avoid when applying.

“How do I go through this process, exactly what do I need pay attention to, what do I need to know, we hear this a lot, especially from folks who have never applied for NSF funding before,” said Martha Desmond, a Regents professor at New Mexico State University who is a co-investigator at the HSI National Resource Hub.

“The focus of this is HSIs, which are often under-staffed, so this workshop is specifically about building infrastructure as well as capacity and part of that process is the sharing of ideas and resources. Most importantly, it’s about creating a vibrant network of HSIs in the northeast region, committed to improving outcomes for Latino students,” said John Montanez, Dean of the Office of Sponsored Programs, BMCC.

More than 60 percent of Hispanic college students attend one of the nation’s 496 HSI’s and a significant number of those same students are at community colleges.

Although Hispanics make up 16 percent of the nation’s overall workforce, they only constitute seven percent of the people working in STEM fields according to data from the Pew Research Center. Among college-educated workers employed full-time year-round, the median income for those who have a STEM college degree is $81,011 compared with $60,828 for other non-STEM majors.

The hub’s Principal Investigator, New Mexico State University Regents Professor Elba E. Serrano, said one of the program’s overarching goals is to build the nation’s STEM workforce.

“For all of us in this room, the focus is our students, so everything we’re doing here is to bring resources to institutions so that students find success and move forward,” said Serrano.

  • More than 40 faculty and staff from HSIs learn grant writing skills
  • Workshop organizers hope participants bring back new skill set to their college
  • Hispanics are underrepresented in STEM fields

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