December 17, 2013

Four States and the District of Columbia Receive Grants to Increase Number of STEM Graduates

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Complete College America today announced five recipients of the Guided Pathways to Success (GPS) in STEM Careers Initiative technical assistance grants supported by The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust. The District of Columbia, Idaho, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Ohio will use the award to develop and implement plans to provide innovations such as clear academic degree maps, default class schedules, guaranteed milestone courses and proactive advising support to students — all of which contribute to higher degree completion rates, particularly among non-traditional students who are underrepresented in the high demand fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

“The recipients of this grant have shown visionary leadership and an unwavering commitment to college completion,” said Stan Jones, President of Complete College America. “These ambitious plans, which utilize our GPS strategies, will lead to more high-skilled, high-wage jobs for their states by dramatically increasing the number of students with valuable STEM degrees. I’m confident that these efforts — and the results they will produce — will serve as a blueprint for the rest of the country.”

During the two-year grant period, state higher education leaders and campus teams will work with national experts and practitioners to develop STEM completion goals, analyze local STEM labor markets, and implement Complete College America’s GPS best practices.

In addition, awardees will participate in a national network of state and postsecondary leaders dedicated to increasing STEM degrees and will have access to state convenings that showcase proven models of implementation.

“We are thrilled to be working with Complete College America and the higher education leaders in Idaho, Illinois, Massachusetts, Ohio, and the District of Columbia on this critically important effort to develop a set of high-impact, evidenced-based strategies and policies to improve opportunities in STEM fields for our nation’s students,” said Rich McKeon, Program Director of the Helmsley Charitable Trust’s Education Program. “It’s terrific to see how enthusiastic the colleges and universities participating in this initiative are about working with their states to address the urgent and increasing demand for skilled STEM graduates.”

Around the country, the GPS strategies these states will implement are already leading to significant results and closing attainment gaps. At Florida State University, the use of academic degree maps has increased graduation rates by 12 percent. Graduation rates for African American students has increased to 77 percent, for first-generation Pell students to 72 percent, and for Hispanic students to more than 70 percent. Similarly impressive results have been achieved at Arizona State University and Georgia State University, among others.