RCC Awarded Nearly $1 Million to Recruit, support Underrepresented Students in Chemistry and Biochemistry

Mar 26

Riverside City College has received a nearly $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S-STEM). Thousands of students in the Riverside Community College District benefit annually through enhanced programming and educational opportunities from federal education grants.

Through the effort of RCC’s STEM faculty, the College was awarded a five-year $999,985 grant to support the Accelerating Chemistry Engagement & Success (ACES) program. The program was developed to recruit and retain underrepresented students.

The College is recruiting 40 academically talented and low-income, students into chemistry and biochemistry studies. The aim is to provide unique and high-impact interventions to significantly increase the retention and academic performance, and dramatically reduce time to transfer into baccalaureate programs in chemistry and biochemistry.

“RCC is committed to economic and racial justice in our communities,” President Gregory Anderson said. “This grant will help the College provide more opportunity and release the potential of students from underserved communities.  Federal, state, and private grant makers continue to recognize RCC as a sound investment for resources for social and economic equity.”

This grant will fund scholarships for students. Each scholar will receive a $7,500 scholarship per year, for two years, at RCC as well as perform a paid summer internship through a partnership with UC Riverside’s College of Engineering Center for Environmental Research & Technology (CE-CERT). Each cohort of scholars will be supported through the two-year Guided Pathway for Transfer in Chemistry or Biochemistry.

“We are excited to begin recruitment of our first cohort of RCC ACES Scholars,” Melissa Harman, Ph.D., assistant professor of Chemistry, said. “We are hopeful that the significant financial support and immersion in the community of scientific scholarship, from the classrooms of RCC to the laboratories of UCR, will propel our scholars to successful transfer and four-year degree completion in chemistry and biochemistry.”

ACES leverages existing student support systems including supplemental instruction and peer mentoring, to provide support in a number of areas, such as faculty mentoring, opportunities for professional development, and community building. ACES scholars will be provided student memberships in the American Chemistry Society (ACS), the opportunity to present at the annual RCC Research Symposium, and be encouraged to attend public seminars, and other events at top transfer institutions.

ACES scholars will also receive support in order to apply to various experiential learning programs such as California State University, San Bernardino’s summer research experience, UCR’s RISE summer research program, and the national research experience for undergraduates (REUs). By providing financial and co-curricular support, the objective is to increase retention and persistence to transfer. The cohort model and interventions are designed to develop the scholars’ self-efficacy and confidence in order to major in STEM programs. By developing this confidence, students will be better prepared to transfer and persist in degree completion.

Development of the ACES program grew from extensive institutional assessment and leverages many institutional initiatives undertaken in the past few years to transform RCC into a highly effective, equity-minded Guided Pathways institution.  Engagement offered through ACES has been shaped by models proven to be effective for all students, but particularly for students from minority and underserved populations, both of whom comprise a significant percentage of the College’s student population.

Recruitment of students for the fall semester has begun.