The National Science Foundation (NSF) plans to increase its investment in community colleges to $100 million in fiscal year (FY) 2012.
“We’re doing that not through developing a new program, but rather through coordinating across the variety of programs that are already in existence and that have had, to some extent, involvement in community colleges in the past,” Barbara Olds, acting deputy director of the Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR), told the Community College Times.
Olds said that NSF is particularly interested in supporting research that examines promising practices at community colleges. The agency also hopes to expand its support of innovative programs at two-year colleges that focus on teachers’ math and science education; student transitions from high schools to transfer programs and jobs; underrepresented populations and students with disabilities, veterans and older students; and developmental math.
“We’re not just interested in Ph.D. scientists. We’re interested in a STEM-literate workforce and community,” Olds said.
NSF is also exploring partnerships with national philanthropic foundations and theU.S. Department of Education to maximize their efforts with community colleges.
NSF has been talking with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Lumina Foundation and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, which already have community college programs. NSF and U.S. Department of Education officials have also had a series of discussions about community colleges.
“In tough economic times especially, I think we’re all looking to leverage what we can. [We are] trying to work together sort of through synergistic means to get the most bang for our buck,” Olds said.
Although the federal budget for the current fiscal year is still unresolved, Olds said the collaborative conversations are “being driven by the focus on community colleges. Regardless of the budget, these will continue.” (Read more.)