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Caldwell University has been awarded nearly $5 million in grant funding to benefit Hispanic and low-income students who are planning for careers in science, math, and computer science.  Caldwell received a $4,979,840 grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Fiscal Year 2021 Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and Articulation Program.

The five-year grant was awarded for the University’s new STEM Advance initiative to benefit undergraduate students in the School of Natural Sciences, Department of Mathematics, and Computer Science program in the School of Business and Computer Science. 

“Caldwell is excited and grateful to receive this extremely significant grant to develop our STEM Advance initiative which will expand our educational opportunities and provide students with strong career preparation,” said President Matthew Whelan, Ed.D.   “As a proud Hispanic-Serving Institution, this grant supports our work to focus on areas across campus that aid Hispanic and low-income students in STEM majors and support them in their journeys to a successful graduation.”     

The initiative will allow Caldwell to hire more STEM faculty and bilingual staff to recruit and support students.  It will support student internships, research and employment, and provide for the development of articulation agreements with Passaic County Community College, also a HSI, streamlining the process for students to transfer into Caldwell’s STEM programs. The program will fund the purchase of scientific instruments and the upgrading of research and computer science laboratory spaces. 

William Velhagen, Ph.D., associate dean of the School of Natural Sciences and project director of STEM Advance, said he was delighted that more resources would be available to engage students in STEM.  “We want to help students think about themselves as scientists, do science by conducting research and experience science through internships.”  

Velhagen said STEM Advance would provide students who have faced cultural or economic barriers with “wrap-around support and innovative perspectives and opportunities through experiential learning, coursework and exposure to role models.”

The co-director for STEM Advance is Professor of Biology Agnes Berki, Ph.D. The grant application was led by Patricia Levins, Caldwell’s director of the corporate, foundation, and government relations.  The grant period began on Oct. 1, 2021. 

Caldwell University was formally recognized as a Hispanic-Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education in 2020.  The designation reflects the growth in enrollment of Hispanic students at the University. It enabled the University to compete for federal grant programs managed by the HSI Division of the U.S. Department of Education.