The National Science Foundation awarded a combined $4.6 million grant to Heartland Community College, Illinois State, and Illinois Wesleyan universities to bolster STEM studies.
Presidents from the three institutions announced the grant Thursday. Nearly two-thirds of the money will go toward four-year student scholarships.
Heartland President Keith Cornille said NexSTEM will allow more students to study in STEM fields: science, technology, engineering, and math.
“The NexSTEM grant is another tool to strengthen our college communities, bolster the partnerships between our institutions, and most important of all, help our students get the tools they need to learn (and) grow,” Cornille said.
McLean County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Charlie Moore said the grant helps keep talent in the county after graduation.
“Our workforce numbers in McLean County are on the decline,” Moore said. “The No. 1 concern we hear from (chamber) members, businesses throughout Bloomington-Normal, is their concern for finding qualified employees.”
The other $1.8 million from the grant will support community-based research projects, classroom learning, and new strategies for retaining STEM students.
The need-based scholarships are geared towards students from McLean County, but all STEM majors can apply.
Scholarships given to Heartland students are transferrable to Illinois State and Illinois Wesleyan.
Disbursement of the scholarships starts next year. Amounts are up to $10,000 annually, and based on financial need.
Editor's Note: This story has been updated from a previous version to reflect the correct fraction of funds used for scholarships.
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