Fort Lewis College received a $1.1 million grant for its STEM³ program from the U.S. Department of Education last week.
The STEM³ program supports FLC students working toward degrees in science, technology, engineering and math. It particularly focuses on students who are first-generation, low-income or students who are dealing with a disability. The program serves about 120 students each year.
“The way we’re different is that we provide very individualized services based on the student’s needs,” said Susan Decker, STEM³ program director. “We have objectives every year that we have to fulfill that the federal government puts forward, and we have met or exceeded those every year.”
The program offers a number of services, including specialized academic tutoring, help with financial aid, a computer lab and lounge for studying, and resources such as scientific calculators, desktop and notebook computers and voice recorders, as well as preparation for graduate school.
In recent years, Decker said, the STEM³ program has seen 82 percent of its students maintain a good academic standing – a GPA of 2.0 or higher – and 98 percent stay in school, although not necessarily at FLC, and continue to pursue their degrees, called persistence, from year to year. The federal government’s persistence objective is 60 percent for STEM students.
“We work with students who deal with some significant barriers to success in college,” Decker said, “and STEM³ has enjoyed a pretty high level of academic success with them.”
The grant will be paid out over five years at $220,000 a year.