SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Congressman Richard Neal announced two grants at Springfield Technical Community College Wednesday morning that will help students among Latinx and low-income families.

According to a news release from STCC, the $7.35 million in grants will be used to expand support services to help Hispanic and low-income students to pursue degrees in the STEM field. STCC is a federally designated Hispanic Serving Institution, meaning their Latinx enrollment exceeds 25 percent.

“I am thrilled to celebrate the success of Springfield Technical Community College’s grant applications to the U.S. Department of Education,” Neal said. “These two awards totaling more than $7 million over a five-year period will help support the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programs at the college and welcome more students into the ever-growing field. This area of study is important across the country but is especially vital here in Massachusetts where we have some of the highest concentration of research and development in the world. Graduates of STCC will be ready to meet the challenge.”

John LaFrancis, chair of the Mechanical Engineering Technology Department at STCC, shows U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal objects made by students as part of their precision manufacturing training. Credit: STCC

The grant called “Project Acceleration: Re-Engineering Pathways to Student Success in STEM” will give STCC the funds to create a STEM studies program and create services to increase access to STEM careers. The goal of the grant is to increase enrollment and graduation rates of Latinx and low-income students. A total of $3 million will be used over the next five years to fulfil these goals.

The other grant called “STEM Access and Retention Strategies” will allow STCC to create support services for Latinx and low-income students. A total of $4,352,559 has been awarded in the five-year grant. Services in the grant include:

  • Creation of STEM-focused First Year Experience Courses
  • Utilization of proactive STEM advisors, which would involves bringing services to students rather than waiting for them to ask
  • Implementation of additional mental health services

“We are thrilled to receive this funding from the U.S. Department of Education and extremely grateful for support from Congressman Neal,” STCC President John Cook said. “I want to thank our local delegation for visiting STCC and for their support through the years. These grants will directly address challenges we face at the college. One of our top priorities is to close achievement gaps among students who have faced barriers, which includes many of our Latinx and low-income students. These grants will help support our students and give them a better chance at staying in college and earning their degree.”

Neal also toured the campus Wednesday, going through classrooms and laboratories, as well as the Smith & Wesson STCC Advanced Manufacturing Building in Springfield Technology Park.

STCC is the only technical community college in Massachusetts that is federally designed as a Hispanic serving institution. The college will partner with UMASS Amherst and Central Connecticut State university to expand transfer opportunities for students.