Red Rocks Community College Receives $516K Grant for STEM Education

National Science Foundation Award Will Be Given Over Three Years

Lakewood–Red Rocks Community College (RRCC) this month was awarded more than $500k to engage and retain low-income and first-generation community college students in engineering and STEM. 

“Improving the retention and success of low-income and first-generation community college students is critical for increasing the number of STEM graduates nationwide,” said Director of Red Rocks Innovations in STEM Education Elizabeth Cox. “We are grateful for this grant as we develop new approaches and models to better engage and support this group of students along the engineering pathway.”

The grant will provide funding to develop:

  • Faculty workshops, conferences, and discussions to develop shared understandings of the challenges facing low-income and first-generation (LIFG) students.  STEM faculty will serve as transforming agents by developing new pedagogies and meaningful mentorships that enrich teaching and learning in the STEM disciplines. 
  • Nontraditional mentoring strategies and a STEM101 course will be developed to address how social and cultural capital contributes to self-efficacy and academic success for LIFG students.  Students completing STEM 101 will participate in activities leading to authentic research opportunities in engineering at the Colorado School of Mines.  These undergraduate research experiences will draw on and reinforce students’ STEM knowledge and build expertise in engineering. 

  • Student opportunities for experiential learning on engineering projects directly relevant to their lives and their communities.  These will be based on an Introduction to Design and Engineering Applications (IDEA) program already developed by RRCC in collaboration with the Colorado School of Mines and the Engineering by Doing program developed by the Humanitarian Engineering program at the Colorado School of Mines.

  • The partnership between RRCC and the Colorado School of Mines as a model for building community college–university collaborations that provide LIFG students with stronger academic preparation and more accessible pathways for transfer to 4-year institutions and for developing careers in engineering.

How these activities contribute to STEM learning and retention will be studied and evaluated through student and faculty surveys, inventories, questionnaires, direct observations, and academic capstone assessments of integrated learning.  The goals are to generate models and evidence that will be useful for other community colleges struggling to address engagement and retention issues for LIFG students.


About Red Rocks Community College:  Established in 1969, Red Rocks Community College delivers high-quality, affordable education programs leading to two-year degrees or professional certificates. The college serves over 15,000 students per year online and at campus locations in Lakewood and Arvada.

Friday, August 29, 2014