Tarrant County College’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) initiative, which incorporates STEM concepts into traditionally non-STEM-related courses, and represents one of most important and ambitious programs in its history. The effort requires a complex collaboration among the College’s strategic planners, faculty, administrators and students, and is expected to transform the future of TCC. Boosting the initiative is the equally complex support of Tarrant County College Foundation. The effort is a precise example of the Foundation’s mission—to raise, manage and provide philanthropic support for students and for the critical needs of the College’s strategic planning process.
Through the Foundation, companies, organizations, individuals and TCC employees contribute generous funds for scholarships. Grants provide STEM students with valuable equipment and resources. Funds contributed support specific STEM programs—the GenHope program, the Texas Academy of Biomedical Sciences (TABS), the Bolen Math Competition and other STEM efforts.
Filling the need for individuals to enter STEM occupations is among the highest priorities of today’s local and national economies,” said Joe McIntosh, executive director of TCC Foundation. “As the TCC District continues to focus on STEM–related fields of programming for students, the Foundation is aggressively seeking support from individuals, organizations and businesses to help students involved in this rigorous study.”
Through the Foundation, donors have established eight specific scholarships supporting students pursuing studies in STEM fields:
- American Association of University Women’s (AAUW)
- Fort Worth Branch Scholarship – mathematics and science
- AAUW’S Tarrant County Branch STEM Scholarship – any STEM field of study
- Bates Container/Hardy Sanders Family Scholarship – computer and engineering technology
- Charter Communications – computer science and information technology
- Larry Darlage Scholarship – any STEM field of study
- Beverly and D. R. Lutton Endowed Scholarship – engineering-related fields of study
- Gloria Mills Scholarship – mathematics, natural and physical sciences
- Martin Stacy Scholarship – any STEM field of study
The Foundation has secured community financial support for GenHope, an after-school STEM-focused program orchestrated through the South Campus Community & Industry Education department. Originally begun by County Commissioner Roy Brooks and transitioned to TCC to administer in 2013, GenHope engages students at 14 Title One middle schools in Fort Worth, Crowley and Everman ISDs in rigorous curricula that nurture their STEM acumen.
Among those providing GenHope funding for the 2015-16 academic year are the Miles Foundation, Lockheed Martin, Tarrant County Credit Union, Southside Bank, Katrine Menzing Deakins Trust and Union Pacific Foundation.
Norman Robbins, director of communications for Lockheed Martin, a major GenHope donor, says his company must hire tens of thousands of scientists and engineers over the next five to 10 years to remain competitive, and they need to be U.S. citizens.
“We work to devote half of our philanthropy to STEM-related investments, and we can’t wait until high school to get students interested in math and science. The early grades – elementary and middle school – provide a great gateway for stimulating interest in math and science, and support of TCC’s GenHope program has been one of our most successful efforts.”
Robbins said he has had personal experience observing GenHope students. “The GenHope kids are fully engaged and excited to be learning these subjects. They are developing a passion that will carry them into high school and college and provide them with the knowledge employers like Lockheed Martin need to remain cutting edge and keep our country competitive,” he said.
Of course, TCC’s STEM initiative wants to give students the opportunity to work with leading-edge technology, and companies and foundations are providing that technology.
TCC used a grant from the Sid W. Richardson Foundation to purchase an anatomage table. The special equipment is used by students in the early college high school at the Trinity River Campus — the Texas Academy of Biomedical Sciences (TABS), a partnership among TCC, Fort Worth ISD, the University of North Texas and the UNT Health Science Center.
“It’s a virtual human cadaver, with no harsh chemicals and odors involved,” said Randall Canedy, chair of the TCC Foundation Board. “I would say that there are few, if any, other high school students using this cutting-edge piece of equipment as they prepare for future healthcare careers.”
The anatomage table allows students to visualize skeletal tissues, muscles, organs and soft tissue. These various tissues can be customized by virtually slicing, layering and segmenting the anatomy.
TCC Foundation has secured other technologically advanced equipment for the TABS labs with private grant funding awarded specifically for the biomedical academy. The Robert D. and Alma Moreton Foundation awarded a $10,000 grant for the support of TABS.
According to Bryan Stewart, vice president of academic affairs at the Trinity River Campus, this funding has been put to good use. “This special funding has been so appreciated,” said Stewart. “For students to be able to use such advanced equipment increases the value of their education. They graduate from TABS prepared for rigorous education that will help them obtain promising careers in healthcare.”
TCC employees helped bolster scholarship support by contributing over $195,000 to TCC Foundation scholarship funds through the 2015-16 Employees Care Campaign. McIntosh said, “TCC employees know first-hand the value of a scholarship. TCC employees want to help their students succeed. Contributions from our TCC employees are highly valued.”
People donate their time as well. “About 75 community volunteers commit a great deal of time reviewing scholarship applications and selecting recipients,” said McIntosh. “This is a time-consuming process, and their work is immensely valuable.”
The Foundation is preparing to administer and manage about $1.5 million in total scholarship awards for the 2016-2017 academic year.
“STEM adds an exciting dimension to the great academic work of this College,” McIntosh said. “Collectively, the generous gifts of time and money coming from so many sources create bright futures for our TCC students, the workforce of tomorrow.”