Publish Date:  Aug 22, 2018

Hartnell College Receives Prestigious National Science Foundation Grant for Hispanic-Serving Institutions  


SALINAS, Calif. –  Hartnell College is thrilled to announce that it was recently awarded a $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Improving Undergraduate STEM Education: Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) Program. The program aims to increase retention and graduation rates for STEM students attending HSIsHartnell was one of only 31 institutions nation-wide selected for funding.

Hartnell’s project, "Engaging STEM Transformative Experiences for Early Momentum (ESTEEM): Stepping Stones,” will enable the college to develop and implement an innovative model that provides authentic STEM research experiences for undergraduate students at an early stage in their education pathway.   Such  early experiences will better equip students to overcome obstacles to success, including degree completion and transfer to a baccalaureate STEM degree program. Each “Stepping Stone” will engage groups of students in the investigation of an authentic STEM research project, distinguished by collaborative inquiry, early access, a short duration, and a flexible schedule, in order to respond to the needs of the local student population. By providing the key benefits of full-length internships and research experiences in an abbreviated format, the project will improve attainment for underrepresented students in STEM and directly transform the higher education experience for over 1,000 Hartnell students.

“In the U.S., Hispanics constitute 16 percent of the workforce, but they make up only 6 percent of the STEM workforce,” stated the project director, Dr. Mohammed Yahdi. “This project has the potential to be a key leverage point for recruiting and retaining more Hispanics into the STEM workforce.”  

The project also includes a partnership with Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS) Science Learning, a non-profit that will help build faculty capacity by leveraging experts and practitioners in the development of methods to broaden participation of STEM students at HSIs. The partners will also investigate the transformative impact of “Stepping Stones,” specifically its improvement on community college student outcomes.    

“Hartnell College has had a highly successful STEM Internship Program for 12 years, with over 100 students participating every summer, but committing full-time to a 10-week internship does not work for all students,” explained Dean Shannon Bliss of the STEM department. “By providing shorter, more flexibly scheduled hands-on opportunities with this new NSF grant, we hope to make applied learning experiences available to nearly all of Hartnell's STEM students. Furthermore, to stand out in the job market, STEM students need more than quality course work to be competitive.  Ensuring our students develop a strong research background has become an important part of a STEM education at Hartnell.”  

Per a directive from Congress to award grants to HSIs, this is the first time the National Science Foundation has offered the Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program. Congratulations to all of the Hartnell faculty, staff and students that are a part of this inaugural initiative!

Hartnell Community College District – established in 1920

The Hartnell CCD serves over 17,000 students annually through its main campus in Salinas, the Alisal Campus in East Salinas, the King City Education Center, and various outreach learning centers throughout the Salinas Valley. Hartnell College was recently named Top 9 out of 1400 community colleges for percentage of associate degrees awarded to minority students.  Hartnell College is a Hispanic Serving Institution, provides workforce training, basic-skills courses and prepares students for transfer to four-year colleges and universities. Hartnell College is recognized for its innovative public and private partnerships that support world class STEM education, career technical education, fine and performing arts, humanities, and athletics. We are proud to be the winners of the Innovation Award for CSin3 – a Computer Science degree in three years.  We are growing leaders through opportunity, engagement, and achievement. For more about Hartnell visit .