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Alcoa Foundation awards Whatcom Community College $40,000

Post Date:10/04/2019 10:12 am

Bellingham, Wash. – The Alcoa Foundation has awarded Whatcom Community College a $40,000 grant to increase access to undergraduate research opportunities for underrepresented students. The award builds on previous successful Alcoa Foundation grants awarded in 2017-18 ($25,000) and 2018-19 ($30,000).

The grant will enable WCC to expand opportunities for women and other underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) through a research-supported practice called Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences, or “CUREs.” WCC will use the Alcoa Foundation funds to create a faculty development program called CURE Fellows. By funding start-up costs and incentivizing participation, the program will provide the training and resources needed for faculty to develop and implement CUREs across a variety of disciplines.

CURE Fellows builds on successful pilot efforts by a dedicated, cross-disciplinary team of WCC faculty in geology, anthropology, biology, chemistry, math and engineering. The program broadens opportunities across campus and cultivates cross-course activities among students by drawing in non-STEM students through interdisciplinary collaborations. For example, one CURE pilot program brought together engineering design and general chemistry students working on thin film materials. Geology students partnered with community groups to analyze soil health for Growing Veterans and assess water quality of Squalicum Creek for salmon.

WCC’s CUREs program will provide students with hands-on education they wouldn't otherwise receive that gives them an edge with employers and universities. Student CURE projects will be featured through posters and other formats at WCC’s annual student showcase in spring 2020. Within one year, 300 WCC students and 25 faculty are expected to benefit from the program.

About Whatcom: Whatcom Community College in Bellingham, WA is regularly recognized as one of the top 150 community colleges in the nation by the Aspen Institute. The College, a destination for cybersecurity, healthcare and business studies, offers a bachelor of applied science degree, transfer degrees, career preparation, online courses, and community education classes. WCC’s accomplished faculty and staff serve 11,000 students annually. For more information, visit whatcom.edu.

Contact: Marisa Ellis, Whatcom Community College PIO, 360.383.3310, pio@whatcom.edu

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