North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities (NCICU) has received a three-year grant totaling $240,000 from the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation to establish a Faculty-Student STEM Mentoring Program. The program will seek to improve student retention and graduation rates among first generation college students, women, and students of color majoring in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM).
“Employer demand for STEM graduates has experienced a steady increase in the past 20 years,” said NCICU president, Hope Williams. “While North Carolina has a strong STEM workforce, it has been a challenge nationally to attract a diverse population in these fields. NCICU wants to help increase racial and gender diversity and believes this faculty-student mentor program can produce positive results.”
Twelve of North Carolina’s private, nonprofit colleges and universities will be invited to participate in the program, including the five historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), with at least 20 participants per campus. Components of the program will include mentor support, student scholarships, career workshops, guest speakers, and faculty and peer connections. Students will work in small groups with a peer mentor who is a junior or a senior, as well as with a faculty member. Professionals in STEM fields will be invited to share their experiences with participants and to become part of a network of mentors.
“NCICU’s 36 institutions are continuing to increase and expand offerings in STEM programs,” Williams said. “The smaller class sizes at private institutions can provide the additional support and mentoring to help students from underrepresented populations to thrive.”
“Providing mentors to students helps them build their confidence and enhances their learning” stated Marilyn Foote-Hudson executive director of the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation.
While this program is focused on North Carolina’s independent colleges, it will have a statewide impact and will support myFutureNC’s goal to ensure that by 2030, two million North Carolinians will have a high-quality credential or postsecondary degree.