STEM Equity Gets Boost with New Programs to Support Minority Teachers

Heritage University has won two grants from the United States Department of Education worth nearly $4 million to train teachers from under-represented communities.

The first is a five-year Title V grant for $2.7 million that will be used to develop a teacher preparation program designed to attract Hispanic students to teaching careers in elementary and middle schools with an emphasis on STEM topics. The grant is part of ED's Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) Program, which aims to expand opportunities and improve degree attainment by Hispanic students and allows HSIs to enhance academic offerings and program quality.

The university will use the funds to "enhance its Theory to Practice teaching preparation program to include a STEM track," according to a news release. "This enhancement includes STEM summer institutes for partner district mentor teachers (conducted by the University of Washington), summer STEM camp for partner student districts, year-long field experiences and STEM apprentice teaching and a restructured beginning teacher program."

The second grant is a five-year, $1.2 million award from the Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program, which provides funds to help prepare under-represented groups for doctoral studies.

"A total of 25 McNair scholars will be served at Heritage," according to a news release. "Two-thirds of the scholars will include low-income, first-generation college students; the remainder will be drawn from student demographics, such as Hispanics and Native Americans that have been traditionally under-represented in graduate education."

Participants will receive academic supports such as summer internships, tutors and mentors, graduate school prep courses and workshops and three courses designed to prepare them for graduate records examinations.

"The Department of Education's award of these multi-million dollar grants to Heritage is a reflection of the agency's confidence in our ability to provide meaningful academic opportunities for the people of the Yakima Valley," said Heritage University President Andrew Sund in a prepared statement. "The funding from Title V and McNair will help us continue our mission."

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at