GRC Information Technology program featured in Community College Guide to Excellence and Equity in STEM Programs
By Philip Denman, April 12, 2023
Green River College’s Information Technology program was recently featured in the Aspen Institute’s Community College Guide to Excellence and Equity in STEM Programs for their effective strategies to reach, recruit, and support of diverse populations that are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers.
Green River College’s program is one of eight recipients of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program and the Siemens Foundation’s Excellence and Equity in Community College STEM Award.
According to the College Excellence Program, the Community College Guide to Excellence and Equity in STEM Programs aims to share strategies, principles, and examples to help more community colleges deliver programs that promote social mobility and develop talent equitably in their communities.
An excerpt from the guide follows:
Partnerships in Historically Underserved Areas
Green River College is located outside Seattle, in an area with plenty of tech jobs. To help diversify the talent pipeline and provide underserved and place bound students access to the tech industry, Green River launched Expanding Career and Educational Learning in Information Technology (EXCEL-IT), which included two primary strategies. First, the college looked to expand concurrent enrollment at local high schools in diverse and economically challenged areas.15 Teachers at those high schools were certified to teach college-level courses, and the college helped establish needed computer infrastructure so high school students could access computing facilities similar to those on the college campus. More recently, Green River built on the success of the effort to explore building a 2+2+2 STEM degree pathway with support from the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges and the National Science Foundation.
Second, EXCEL-IT leaders launched an exploratory initiative to reach another underserved population: local Native American tribes. The program established a partnership with Muckleshoot Tribal College, where two instructors were trained to offer IT courses. Of the first cohort of 26 students who started in 2018, half have earned their associate degree from Green River and are now working in a technical job. Half of those students (about 25 percent of the original cohort) have continued their studies in an applied baccalaureate program, and are on track to graduate. One reason for the success of this effort: College faculty truly understand tribal students. “We let them know we care and are interested in their success,” says IT instructor Tim Mason, a tribal liaison.
15 “Expanding Career and Educational Learning in Information Technology (EXCEL-IT): Award Abstract #1400688.” National Science Foundation, November 16, 2019. https://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=1400688.
More information about Green River College’s Information Technology program is available here: GRC Wins National Award for Outstanding STEM Education.
More information about the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program and the Siemens Foundation is available here: Excellence and Equity in Community College STEM Award | An Aspen-Siemens Partnership.