The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) this month awarded the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) with a one-year, renewable $300,000 grant to support service learning in the College of Sciences and Technology.
The annual grant will provide scholarships to 25 students in Scholars Academy – an academically competitive program that promotes success for students majoring in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Twelve additional students will receive research stipends.
“As part of our mission at UHD, we seek to create high-impact experiences that blend academic learning with real-world opportunities, benefitting students both inside the classroom and following graduation,” said Bill Flores, Ph.D., UHD president. “This valuable TWC grant will enable us to expand service learning initiatives that integrate students into meaningful community service projects, which also helps them understand the curriculum.”
As partners in the grant, Workforce Solutions Gulf Coast and C3 Texas – an organization that specializes in designing high-impact service learning practices for higher education – will present five student seminars per semester on the UHD campus to teach soft-skills including interviewing, resume writing, team building and leadership training. C3 Texas also will host campus seminars and one-on-one training for UHD faculty on ways to incorporate service learning into the classroom.
“C3 Texas is proud to prepare students for the jobs of the future by reengaging them in STEM fields, ensuring that they have the foundation necessary to compete in the worldwide economy, not just the Texas economy,” said Patricia Potyka, executive director of C3 Texas.
In addition to funding STEM tutors and other support systems for students, the grant will support UHD’s College Success Program for incoming freshmen and enable undergraduates to work closely with professors on research in STEM areas.
“This grant promotes STEM skills among Texas students to prepare them for careers in high-demand occupations,” said TWC Chairman Andres Alcantar. “The students participating in this program also will benefit from the services and expertise offered through the different partners collaborating on this initiative.”
Several UHD faculty members were instrumental in securing this TWC grant, including Principal Investigator Mary Jo Parker, Ed.D., Scholars Academy director; and Co-Principal Investigators Michael Matson, Ph.D.; Poonam Gulati, Ph.D.; and Jean DeWitt, Ph.D.