Temple College has received a $3.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to partner with Texas A&M University-Central Texas, Taylor ISD, and other school districts to prepare more Hispanic and low-income students for careers in high paying, high-demand, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields.
The five-year grant, titled “Creating a Culture of STEM,” will fund a variety of new initiatives beginning at the high school level and continuing through completion of a bachelor’s degree at A&M-Central Texas, the top destination for Temple College transfer students.
Temple College qualified for the grant because it has been certified by the Department of Education as an Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI). A&M-Central Texas was also recently listed as an eligible HSI according to the department’s 2021 listing. Hispanic-Serving Institutions are colleges or universities where Hispanic students comprise at least 25% of the full-time equivalent student body.
The Department of Education has several grant programs designed specifically for Hispanic-Serving Institutions, including one known as HSI-STEM that is designed to increase the number of Hispanic and other low-income students attaining degrees in the fields of science, technology, engineering or math.
According to a 2020 report from the Austin Chamber of Commerce, there were an estimated 119,700 STEM jobs in the Austin metro area in 2019. Those jobs had a median salary of $88,820 versus a median salary of $37,030 for non-STEM workers.
A 2020 report from the Texas Workforce Commission found that 60 percent of the most in-demand jobs in the Temple service area are STEM jobs.
Temple College offers 14 different STEM-related degree programs and is developing more.
“We have excellent STEM degrees and programs, and we know that high-paying jobs are available in our communities,” said Temple College President Dr. Christy Ponce. “This grant provides us the tools and resources to help create a culture of STEM and provide quality educational and training so that students can be connected to high-demand, high-wage careers. These opportunities can change the lives of students and their families.”
The grant will fund five new positions, including two STEM advisors devoted primarily to high schools in the Central Texas region. One of those advisors will be located at Taylor High School and another will work with STEM transfer students at A&M–Central Texas.
Dr. Mienie Roberts, associate professor of mathematics at A&M-Central Texas, will serve as the co-principal investigator on the project and will work with faculty and administrators at Temple College and A&M-Central Texas to ensure that all STEM degree programs at Temple College have corresponding programs at the University and articulation agreements are in place to ensure a smooth transfer experience.
“We are proud to be part of advancements in STEM, research, and strong partnerships among school districts, Temple College and A&M-Central Texas allowing students to earn associate degrees and bachelor’s degrees directly linked to careers in the area,” said Dr. Marc Nigliazzo, president of A&M-Central Texas.
The grant will fund tutors to help students successfully complete STEM classes at Temple College and prepare STEM program graduates for successful transfer to A&M-Central Texas. Additionally, this grant provides a career navigator for health professions students to ensure they succeed.
The grant will also fund summer internships or apprenticeships to give STEM students marketable experience. Project administrators hope to fund 30 such internships a year over the five years of the grant.
“I am grateful for this partnership with Temple College and A&M-Central Texas. Creating affordable pathways towards a college education in this growing career field for the students of Taylor ISD is an incredible opportunity,” said Taylor ISD Superintendent Dr. Devin Padavil.