Grants Awarded to Saddleback College Will Enhance STEM and Behavioral Health Programs, and Student Civic Engagement

Mission Viejo, CA – Saddleback College was recently named a recipient of two federal grants: One that will enhance science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, and one that will promote behavioral health programming, and was also awarded a state grant to promote civic engagement among community college students.

Dr. Tod A. Burnett, president of Saddleback College stated, “I am extremely proud that we were selected to receive these grants, which are a testament to our stellar STEM programs, outstanding behavioral health pipeline, and inspiring students who are motivating others to exercise their right to vote.”

The National Science Foundation (NSF) issued its first-ever awards for the NSF INCLUDES program, a comprehensive initiative to enhance U.S. leadership in science and engineering by improving access and broadening participation of underserved populations in the STEM fields. The $299,981 grant will expand Saddleback’s existing STEM Core Initiative – which provides intensive support to remedial math students and partners with employers to provide project-based internships – to 13 additional California community colleges and a community college district in the state of Maryland, directly serving more than 500 students.

Dr. Jim Zoval, professor of chemistry at Saddleback College, said, “This grant will allow Saddleback and other California community colleges to provide several excellent opportunities to student participants, including the facilitation of a very special social learning environment. I have seen this type of program make a big difference in the lives of Saddleback students in a previous grant program that focuses on engineering majors. This new grant will allow us to expand participant eligibly beyond engineering majors to also include students in science, math, and technology fields of study.

Saddleback College also received a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training (BHWET) program to enhance and expand the college’s behavioral health paraprofessional pipeline, which includes career pathways for students pursuing degrees and certificates in alcohol and drug studies, community-based corrections, human services generalist, and mental health worker. The $211,271 grant will be allocated to 90 students to cover the costs of tuition, fees, and supplies, resulting in substantial assistance to students in these fields.

Human services department chair and professor Kim Branch-Stewart, LCSW said , “Saddleback College’s human services department is honored to be selected as one of 34 new recipients nationwide of the BHWET grant, which will focus on training behavioral health workers in intervention, assessment, and treatment with children, at-risk youth, transitional age youth, and their families. The grant will permit the human services programs to expand and reach out to underserved and non-traditional student populations, including students with ‘lived’ mental health experience, to provide educational and career opportunities that might otherwise not be accessible to this student population.

Lastly, the Saddleback College Associated Student Government (ASG) was among 25 campuses in California selected to receive a grant from the California Community Colleges Civic Impact Project to increase civic participation among community college students. The $10,000 grant will allow ASG to deploy their campus action plan to inform and engage students on campus in the democratic process and increase student participation in the upcoming November election.

Lucy Hendrix, ASG president shared, “Saddleback College recently participated in a national study that showed us our aggregate student voting data. While the figures were similar to other colleges in the areas, they were nothing to be excited about. This semester, Saddleback’s ASG has focused on various ways to engage student voting through both registration and education. By receiving the Civic Impact Project grant, we will be able to fully fund all of our planned projects, as well as support new ideas.”

Located in Mission Viejo, Saddleback College provides dynamic, innovative, and student-centered postsecondary education and training to the greater south Orange County community. Having served more than 665,000 students since 1968, Saddleback College offers more than 300 renowned degree, certificate, transfer, and lifelong learning programs to help students succeed in reaching their personal and career goals. For more information, please visit www.saddleback.edu.

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