With $4 million grant, CSU and Front Range Community College team up for transfer students

student speaks at research poster session

Anthony Martinez, a transfer student from Front Range Community College, at the end-of-summer B2B research poster session. A new NSF grant will support more STEM students like Martinez who are transferring to CSU from Front Range. Photo credit: John Eisele

Adapted from a news release by Jessica Peterson, Front Range Community College

Colorado State University and Front Range Community College have secured a grant from the National Science Foundation for a new program to help students successfully transfer from Front Range to CSU to earn bachelor’s degrees.

The $4.28 million grant will fund the new Wolves to Rams (W2R) Scholars program. W2R will support transfer students, helping them to graduate and go on to careers in science, technology, engineering and math fields. The program’s broader goal is to increase participation of low-income, first-generation and underrepresented students in STEM.

The W2R Scholars program parallels the ongoing work of a National Institutes of Health-funded partnership between Front Range and CSU called Bridges to Baccalaureate (B2B), and expands opportunities for Front Range transfer students pursuing a STEM degree. For the last several years, B2B has provided research experience and resources for transfer students in STEM disciplines, including a “Becoming a Scientist” course that helps students develop a science identity, leadership skills and career purpose.

“Community college transfer students are a vibrant and diverse part of our community at CSU, and this NSF grant will continue to support that population and set them up for success,” said Paul Laybourn, professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and CSU’s principal investigator on both the B2B and the new NSF grant. “We welcome and look forward to a continued partnership with Front Range Community College, in which we work to integrate our efforts on behalf of our students.”

Scholarships for transfer students

Sixty percent of the $4.28 million funding over the next five years will provide scholarships to Front Range students upon their transfer to CSU. Students will be awarded up to $10,000 toward their two years at Front Range and then have the opportunity to continue funding upon their transfer to CSU at up to $10,000 per year for two more years, for a total of $30,000 toward their degree. The grant will support at least 150 students who are pursuing associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in mathematics, life sciences, physical sciences, engineering, computer sciences, and science education.

“We are excited to partner with CSU to build a community of STEM students through active participation in workshops, trainings, events, advising, and mentoring,” said Katie Malara, chemistry faculty member, and Front Range Community College’s principal investigator on the NSF grant. “This grant will also enable us to offer financial support to help our students transfer and earn a bachelor of science degree.”

The W2R project will build a community of scholarship by providing students mentoring, academic coaching, and opportunities to learn outside of the classroom. This project will implement national best practices that are proven to improve student retention, support transfer students and help them complete their four-year degree.

Study on best practices

A study led by Kim Henry, professor of psychology at CSU, will also be conducted on the W2R program to determine what works best for supporting underrepresented students in STEM who begin their education at a two-year college. The study will aim to identify which practices best enhance students’ success in completing a bachelor of science degree at a four-year institution.

The project also has broader goals – to narrow existing educational gaps in Colorado and increase the diversity of students completing STEM degrees. The project’s evidence-based example will provide a model for other collaborations between two-year and four-year colleges in the state.