AC receives $4.8 million grant to enhance STEM career pathways


By Joe Wyatt

Amarillo College has been awarded a five-year grant by the U.S. Department of Education totaling $4,783,323 to develop a work-based learning system and enhance transfer readiness for students pursuing careers in STEM fields.

The Hispanic-Serving Institutions STEM Grant positions the College to cultivate initiatives that enhance academic and apprenticeship models for students on STEM career pathways.

Stem stands for science, technology, engineering, and math; and only colleges and universities officially designated as Hispanic-serving – those whose academic enrollment is at least 25 percent Hispanic – qualify to receive grants of this nature. AC’s Hispanic enrollment stands at approximately 44 percent.

The College, as stipulated by the grant, will focus on the following initiatives:

Develop a work-based learning system for STEM students.

Update technology-skills instruction in STEM programs.

Develop a STEM Scholars program.

Strengthen STEM-related articulations between AC and West Texas A&M University.

Portions of the grant mesh with goals of the Adams Earn and Learn Program, which AC launched in 2020 to pair students with local businesses so students can have work-based, paid experiences prior to graduation or transfer.

“This presents an exciting opportunity for our students in the STEM fields,” said Dr. Tamara Clunis, vice president of academic affairs. “One goal of our strategic plan is to ensure that 90 percent of our students receive an apprenticeship-type experience, and this grant will help us accomplish that in the STEM fields.

“Pairing our students with businesses in our community, where they can earn and learn, is invaluable for both the long-term success of our students and the economic vitality of our region. Now, with our STEM programs perfectly positioned by this grant to thrive, we can focus on seeking sources of financial support to enhance the work-based opportunities in our other academic communities.”

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