New Jersey Institute of Technology has long desired to expand access to STEM degrees and careers, especially for local Newark residents, first-generation students and those from historically underrepresented communities.
On Tuesday, the PSEG Foundation made the goal a little easier to reach, when it announced it was awarding the school an $800,000 grant to help in the cause.
The five-year grant includes support for new need-based scholarships and research funding for local and underrepresented undergraduate students. It also promises support for vital science, technology, engineering and mathematics initiatives and college-prep programs for local elementary, middle school and high school students, offered through the university’s Center for Pre-College Programs.
CPCP currently offers STEM programs and services to more than 3,000 local elementary and secondary school students each year.
NJIT President Joel Bloom, who will be retiring at the end of the June, said the grant will help the school fulfill its mission and vision.
“NJIT recognizes the importance of cultivating diversity in the STEM disciplines, where the greatest career opportunities exist,” he said. “The grant from PSEG — which builds upon its past generous support for our pre-college programs — bolsters NJIT’s efforts to increase access to and support of a STEM education for the next generation of leaders, visionaries, researchers and innovators.”
PSEG Foundation President Calvin Ledford Jr. said the grant will have great impact.
“New Jersey is a hub for innovation across STEM fields,” he said. “Through the PSEG Foundation’s expanded partnership with NJIT, NJIT will further support underrepresented students by engaging in a structured, concerted effort to provide access to educational opportunities and remove barriers for advancement and achievement.
“The PSEG Foundation supports organizations that foster social justice, equity and economic empowerment and NJIT is a perfect partner in this endeavor.”
Critically, the PSEG Foundation grant expands the number of Newark high school students able to pursue STEM degrees at NJIT through the NJIT-Newark Math Success Initiative.
Launched in 2019 through a partnership between NJIT’s CPCP, College of Science and Liberal Arts, the city of Newark and Newark Public Schools, the math-intensive program aims to double the number of city residents enrolled at NJIT to 600 undergraduate students within five years.
Funding also will help CPCP recruit and enroll more young students from Newark and other urban communities to its popular pre-college STEM events and programs, including its “Explore Careers in Technology and Engineering” and “Women in Engineering and Technology” summer programs.
“Students cannot fully appreciate science, technology, engineering and mathematics without having hands-on experiences with these subject areas,” said Jacqueline Cusack, CPCP executive director and MSI project manager. “The support from PSEG will mitigate the financial roadblock to student exposure and participation in the superior quality of STEM education offered at NJIT.”
In addition to expanding STEM opportunities for local pre-college students, annual “PSEG Opportunity Scholarships” will be made available to undergraduates from underrepresented backgrounds who demonstrate financial need and are pursuing engineering and computer science degrees.
Additional funding will also be made available for eligible students engaged in NJIT’s Undergraduate Research and Innovation program. PSEG’s grant will fund research stipends and seed money for materials and supplies related to research ranging from environmental engineering to data science and cybersecurity.
Since it was established in 2013, NJIT’s URI program has given more than 450 students hands-on, professional research opportunities that serve them in the next phase of their STEM careers.
Funding from the grant will run from the academic years of 2022-2027.