NSF PROGRAMS FOR ENHANCING THE GEOSCIENCES AT COMMUNITY COLLEGES
The National Science Foundation supports numerous programs that fund the development, improvement, and expansion of geoscience programs at community colleges. The NSF Division of Undergraduate Education manages the Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program, the Transforming Undergraduate Education in STEM (TUES) program, and the STEM Talent Expansion Program (STEP). The ATE program provides support to prepare technicians for high-technology fields. Commonly involving partnerships between community colleges and potential employers, the ATE program supports development of technical courses, certificate programs, or associate degrees, professional development activities that enhance the technical abilities of college faculty and secondary school teachers, and development of career pathways from secondary schools to two-year colleges and from two-year colleges to four-year institutions. The TUES program supports efforts to apply current STEM disciplinary knowledge and implement known best practices to investigate new ways to improve the undergraduate experience. Projects that involve the creation and adaptation of learning materials and teaching strategies, develop or enhance faculty expertise, enhance understanding of how students learn STEM topics, or facilitate widespread adoption and implementation of educational innovations are encouraged by TUES. STEP funds projects designed to produce an increase in the number of students completing associate degrees in STEM fields, completing credits toward transfer to STEM baccalaureate degree programs while at a community college, or obtaining STEM degrees at baccalaureate institutions. Typically, STEP projects involve adapting and implementing known strategies and best practices that facilitate recruitment and/or enhance retention of undergraduate students in STEM fields. The NSF GEO Directorate also supports a number of programs (GeoEd, OEDG, and REU) that provide community colleges with additional opportunities to more effectively attract, engage, and educate students.