With funding from the NSF Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S-STEM) Track 1 program, the Achieving Change in our Communities for Equity and Student Success (ACCESS) in STEM program will recruit high-achieving, low-income students to become STEM majors at the University of Washington at Tacoma. The program will support the retention and academic success of 36 students by providing focused mentoring, a living-learning community, course-based undergraduate research experiences, and two years of targeted scholarship support. Mentoring activities will include group and one-on-one faculty mentoring in three 12-person cohorts, skills workshops, and a focus group on equity and inclusion in STEM to help develop a sense of community, identity, and empowerment.
Taken together, this ACCESS program will provide supports and experiences that enable more low-income, academically high achieving students to graduate with STEM degrees, bringing a pipeline of talented and skilled professionals into the workforce. In addition, using their increased cultural competencies, the ACCESS research experience will engage students in an interdisciplinary, community-use inspired study of environmental pollution that affects a local Native American tribe. The aim is to prepare ACCESS scholars to help transform the STEM workplace into a more inclusive and welcoming environment. The program team will quantitatively and qualitatively assess the effectiveness of equity- and inclusivity-focused mentoring, that is coupled with community-engaged, socially relevant, early research experiences. The results of this research may inform other institutions seeking to support the success of low-income students in STEM.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.