MCLA to Receive Funding From Vision Project Performance Incentive Fund Award to Boost STEM Interest


NORTH ADAMS, MASS. - Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) recently was awarded a grant through the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (DHE) Performance Incentive Fund. MCLA will serve as the lead partner in a project working with regional community colleges to increase student success and retention in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)  courses and programs.

The $239,334 grant to support the "413 STEM Ready Program" is part of a $7.5 million statewide investment in public higher education announced on Monday, September 23 by Massachusetts education officials through the third annual Vision Project Performance Incentive Fund program.

MCLA will partner with Berkshire Community College (BCC), Greenfield Community College (GCC), and Holyoke Community College (HCC) to introduce two initiatives: "413 STEM Ready Scholars" and "The 413 STEM Ready Academy."

Each community college campus will identify and select program participants based on criteria related to institutional need, mission, and existing programs including assessing student motivation and interest, potential for academic success, and related factors such as leadership ability. 

According to Cynthia Brown, MCLA's vice president of academic affairs, the College is pleased to work with BCC, GCC, and HCC to support the success of college-bound and enrolled college students throughout Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire counties, as they endeavor to earn associate's and bachelor's degrees in the STEM fields.

"Working together, MCLA and the community colleges will develop STEM programs to interest and engage students in innovative STEM opportunities as they prepare for career and industry opportunities in their community and region," Brown said. "From mentors, tutors and courses to support academic learning, to internships and leadership projects, students may participate in programs that will guide them along a successful STEM career pathway."

"In many ways, this is higher education's own 'Race to the Top,'" said Education Secretary Matt Malone of the Vision Project Performance Incentive Fund grants. "A number of these grants are being used to scale up programs that have proven track records. We're~not just throwing money at problems; we are rewarding campuses that have spent money wisely and have results to show for it."

"These grants give campuses the tools to make real change in the lives of students," said Higher Education Commissioner Richard Freeland. "I was impressed with the high caliber of the proposals we received this year, as was the panel of national experts who helped us decide on the awards."

Created by the legislature in fiscal year 2012, the Vision Project Performance Incentive Fund is a cornerstone of the state's master plan to establish the Commonwealth's system of public higher education as a national leader in the following areas of campus work: college participation, college completion, student learning, workforce alignment, preparing citizens and closing achievement gaps.

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