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Cal State San Bernardino, a Hispanic-Serving Institution, has been awarded a nearly $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to increase the number of Hispanic and low-income students who graduate with degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

“We are very excited about this grant, which builds on our continuing grant ‘Advising for Undergraduate Success (A4US).’ This is a huge win for our students,” said Sastry G. Pantula, dean of the CSUSB College of Natural Sciences, which received the five-year grant, “Proactive Approaches for Training Hispanics (PATHS) in STEM.”

“We believe it will make a significant impact on Hispanic students, low-income students and transfer students over the next five years,” Pantula said.

The $4,989,597 grant is also in recognition of CSUSB’s work as one of the leading HSIs in the country, having earned that distinction in 1994 and every year since. CSUSB has a Hispanic undergraduate full-time student enrollment of 66 percent as of fall 2020. The first year award of the grant is $993,751.

“This five-year financial support from the Department of Education will strengthen our college’s efforts to decrease equity gaps among our students, retain students in STEM, increase graduation rates, and prepare our graduates for graduate and professional schools through proactive advising, individual development plans, expanded support systems, and access to valuable undergraduate research and learning assistant experiences,” said Pantula, who will serve as the grant’s principal investigator, along with co-investigators, Dave Maynard, Guillermo Escalante, Carol Hood and Khalil Dajani.

CSUSB Provost Shari McMahan said the grant will play a significant role for the college.

“This funding is particularly important because it will broaden our efforts in establishing our new Science Success Center and have a significant impact on the sense of belonging in science, technology, engineering (STEM) disciplines,” McMahan said. “PATHS will assist us in putting these students on a path to success.”

The Science Success Center will serve as a one-stop shop for the program. The center will work to improve collaboration between CSUSB, community colleges and employers. It will also steer students to valuable resources such as counseling and psychological services; provide supplemental instruction; learning assistantships, undergraduate research opportunities; and other programs to improve academic and career success. The center will also host self-help workshops, career panels and social events where students can cultivate friendships; and host peer tutoring and small group learning communities.

Pantula thanked the U.S. Department of Education as well as elected officials for their help.

We are very grateful to our congressional representatives Pete Aguilar and Raul Ruiz, and our community college collaborators for supporting our proposal.”

Aguilar, D-San Bernardino, said it was vital to focus educational funding on helping diverse and low-income.

“We need to prioritize investments in our students, especially those in traditionally-underserved communities. Making sure Hispanic-Serving Institutions like CSUSB can provide top-notch STEM training programs can help our students launch careers and stay on the cutting edge in their fields,” Aguilar said. “I’m proud to support this funding, and will continue to advocate for federal investments for Inland Empire students.”

Ruiz, D-Palm Desert, said the funding investment to students would ultimately help local communities.

“I am thrilled to have helped secure nearly $5 million in federal funding for California State University, San Bernardino through the Department of Education’s Hispanic-Serving Institution’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) and Articulation Program,” said Ruiz. “This much-needed investment in our local students’ education will help provide exceptional STEM opportunities for our communities as well as grow our local economy, build a diverse workforce, and create jobs here at home. I look forward to continuing to collaborate with CSUSB to deliver valuable opportunities for our local students that will set them on the path to success.”

Along with aligning students’ learning objectives with the  skills required for employment in in-demand industry sectors and providing work-based learning experiences, the grant is designed to increase the frequency with which students from local community colleges transfer to degree programs within CSUSB’s College of Natural Sciences and earn STEM degrees.

Pantula, who joined CSUSB in 2018, said under the grant, the college “will develop new articulation agreements with many of our community colleges that send their students to us and make their student path to success at CSUSB hurdle-free.”

To help the articulation and transfers, the university will partner with area community colleges, which provide a majority of transfer students to CSUSB, to significantly increase the number of Hispanics and low-income students receiving degrees in STEM fields. CSUSB will partner with Chaffey Community College,  Riverside Community College, San Bernardino Valley College, College of the Desert, Victorville Valley College, Crafton Hills College, Moreno Valley Community College, Norco College, and Mt. San Jacinto College.

For more information visit the CSUSB College of Natural Sciences STEM Center and email Sastry.Pantula@csusb.edu.

Also see the related article, "Educational consultant C. Gita Bosch to present seminars on diversity and student success."

Cal State San Bernardino is one of the leading Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) in the country, having earned that distinction in 1994 and every year since. CSUSB continues to focus on growing its efforts and providing a dynamic environment for its Hispanic community and all who attend here. To learn more about CSUSB’s work as an HSI, visit the CSUSB Hispanic-Serving Institution website.