Helmsley Charitable Trust Awards $1.5 Million Grant to Fund STEM College to Career Program for Students in Florida

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Program designed to support students pursuing STEM fields of study and careers in the Sunshine State

The Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities, a partnership between Florida International University, University of Central Florida, and University of South Florida was awarded a $1.5 million grant from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust to support the Florida Metropolitan STEM Continuum: From College to Career program. The Florida Consortium will implement Network Improvement Communities (NICs), an action-oriented, collective impact approach to support students from college through careers.

Throughout the next 18 months, faculty from FIU, UCF, USF, educators from regional community colleges, and business leaders will work together to minimize barriers to persisting in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields of study.

Together, they will work to align expectations and support students in the transitions from community college or four-year institutions and on to higher wage careers in the Sunshine State. Through analysis of labor market trends, in coordination with review of college course offerings and career certifications, NICs will work to improve career pathways for STEM students in Florida.

“The grant will help us to foster sustained partnership across institutions and industry that will help our state for years to come,” said Michael Preston, Executive Director of the Florida Consortium. Infusing the pipeline with a higher number of career-ready STEM graduates is critical in Florida and across the nation. According to the Florida Chamber of Commerce, overall job growth through 2021 will be about 12 percent. Meanwhile data from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity show that STEM job growth is projected to double. Nationally, the Department of Commerce reports that STEM degree holders enjoy higher earnings, regardless of whether they work in STEM or non-STEM occupations. This is a win for students and the communities they live in.

In 2016, with support from the Helmsley Charitable Trust, the Florida Consortium formed small STEM faculty learning communities (FLCs) at FIU, UCF, and USF. The FLCs were comprised of education leaders, faculty, and university administrators who together examined several factors for why undergraduates leave the sciences and discovered that STEM attrition was strongly correlated to student dissatisfaction with teaching and learning.

With the new Helmsley grant, the Florida Consortium will build on this initial work with a wider network of contributors to scale discoveries and implement solutions at a faster pace.

About Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities:
The Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities is the first of its kind collaboration in higher education. The Florida Consortium is comprised of Florida International, University of Central Florida, and University of South Florida, the state’s largest research universities that account for 167,000 students or 48 percent of the State University System of Florida enrollment. The Florida Consortium is focused on producing more career-ready graduates with lower debt and adaptable skills that employer’s value. For more information visit, http://www.floridaconsortium.com or connect with us on Twitter or Facebook.

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LaToya Hodge
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