'Moon Shot To STEM'

West Chester University Awarded $716K To Advance Equity Project

A Community Project Funding (CPF) grant totaling $716,000 was received by West Chester University to support a project titled "Moon Shot: I Want to STEM! (sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics).

The initiative is linked to WCU’s high-profile Moon Shot for Equity mission, which is dedicated to closing equity gaps in student success by 2030. 

During spring 2022, a nonpartisan panel of 14 community leaders in Pennsylvania’s Sixth Congressional District reviewed 42 applications and recommended select projects. The Moon Shot project emerged as one of 15 offered to the House Committee on Appropriations for funding consideration; committee members approved all 15 projects, and full funding was secured following a vote in the House. 

The initiative was designed to be a comprehensive outreach, research and mentorship program that guides students successfully from elementary school to a bachelor’s degree in STEM. It establishes a chain of mentorship between grade 3-12 students, undergraduates and faculty/industry partners. The project was intentionally designed to expand K-12 STEM engagement for students in grades 3-12 who are of color and low income, as well as to improve college STEM retention by increasing financial assistance and building a sense of community for college students at WCU who are of color and low income.

“Not only does this project have the potential to serve as a national example for closing achievement gaps, it also holds promise to help meet STEM employment needs by providing students with hands-on experiences in real-world, industry-aligned activities and research projects,” says associate professor Brandon Mitchell. 

“STEM careers are for everyone, and more seats are needed at a much longer table,” says WCU Senior Vice President and Interim Provost Jeffery Osgood. 

Dean of the College of the Sciences and Mathematics Radha Pyati says, “We need to be equally committed to cultivating and nurturing the next generation of STEM professionals in a way that includes women, people of color and other underrepresented groups. This grant demonstrates we're here to do whatever we can to increase STEM-focused opportunities and support all students.”

WCU collaborators on this project: principal investigator Brandon Mitchell, associate professor of physics/engineering; Radha Pyati, dean of the College of the Sciences/Mathematics; and Niki Bennett, former vice provost for research and creative activity.

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