I-Corps L: SUNY Replication Project
Through the NSF Innovation Corps for Learning Program (I-Corps L), this project will develop ways to increase the scale and impact of a tutoring, mentoring, and advising program to help community college students to complete Associate's degrees and successfully transfer to four-year institutions. Increasing the number and diversity of students entering, persisting and graduating with STEM degrees; and significantly aiding them with STEM internships and job placements is imperative to solving the critical national and state workforce deficit that encompasses 63 STEM occupations categorized by the U. S. Department of Labor. Improving STEM education pathways to engage and retain students in STEM programs requires creative interdisciplinary real world experiential learning strategies that integrate technology in delivering and reiterating content to 21st century learners. Community colleges represent a special opportunity for increasing STEM majors. Two-year institutions are 'the entry point into higher education for most first-generation college students, particularly those from low-income, minority, and immigrant backgrounds'. Studies have shown that only 25 percent of these students complete a two-year degree and transfer to a four-year institution and only 17 percent complete a bachelor's degree. In 2000, the Baccalaureate and Beyond Community College Mentoring Program (BBCCMP) was founded to assist underrepresented minority, low income, and first generation community college students from six State University of New York (SUNY) community colleges with the transition from the two-year to four-year institutions and transitions either into the workforce or to graduate or professional school. The program involves tutoring, mentoring, and advising at the two and four-year institutions as well as a summer research program. In the almost fifteen years of the program, over 300 students have been involved. Over 80 percent of these students completed their Associate's degree and transferred to four-year institutions. Over 70 percent of these students are completing their bachelor's degree and 33 percent are going on for post-graduate work. This I-Corps for Learning project will develop ways to extend the impact of this program to other institutions throughout the country.
The BBCCMP Program at Purchase College provides an extensive array of student supports. These begin when the student is recruited from the community college. Faculty coordinators at the community college identify and advise students who wish to enter the program. In addition, the program provides peer tutors and mentors at the community college. Students participate in a summer research program that not only provides research opportunities, but also has workshops on skills building, transferring, and career and post-baccalaureate opportunities. Students also participate in cohort and career building. In 2010 the SUNY Replication Project created a New York-based ecosystem in STEM based on the success of the Baccalaureate and Beyond Program within SUNY. Subsequently, six regional hubs comprising a mixture of two-year and four-year institutions were formed, and representatives met again at a second conference in 2012, to scale-up working with community colleges on student transitions. Through the NSF I-Corps initiative, this project will investigate sustainable methods to expand the success of BBCCMP to a larger number of institutions.