Inver Hills Community College is the recipient of a $200,000 grant from the National Science Foundation that will support a three-year effort to identify interests and barriers in information technology careers among underrepresented students.
The grant will fund a pilot program that involves surveying high school students in Burnsville and Inver Grove Heights, assembling focus groups with parents of high school students and providing workshops to high school teachers. It seeks to create, adapt and deploy tools to recruit a more diverse information technology student body, and to retain and support those students; to provide teacher training and curriculum revisions at secondary schools; and to leverage industry partnerships to create new opportunities for students.
Seventy-two percent of the student body at Inver Hills falls into the “underrepresented students” category — including students of color, of low-income status and those who are the first in their family to attend college. Yet I.T. programs at Inver Hills and other area colleges are significantly less diverse.
A hallmark of the project is the degree to which it builds on existing initiatives and partnerships, Gyolai said, as well as the significant support required from business and secondary school partners, creating a truly collaborative project team.