Normandale receives grant from Donaldson Company for Academy of Math and Science Program

By Steven Geller - Director of Media and Public Relations

The Normandale Community College Academy of Math and Science (AMS) recently received a grant from the Donaldson Company for $25,000 to help support the program.

AMS was developed 14 years ago by the college in partnership with the Normandale Foundation to provide focus on support for underrepresented STEM (Science Technology, Engineering, Math) students who may need academic, social, developmental (in terms of student success) or financial support to succeed in their respective academic path. Underrepresented students include students of color, children of immigrant parents or students who are themselves immigrants, students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, students whose parents did not attend college, and women interested in STEM domains. 

To ensure students get these supports, each AMS cohort member receives a scholarship, has an advisor to help provided academic, professional and personal support, and is part of a cohort for peer support and building a learning community. During Fall 2019, AMS students had 470 30-minute meetings with assigned advisors, and 496 bi-monthly cohort meeting contacts. 

The 2019-20 AMS cohort received $89,000 in scholarship support from the Normandale Foundation.  

"The Academy of Math and Science (AMS) is a program we take pride in at Normandale, and Donaldson's commitment to ensure its success means a great deal to us," said Normandale Community College President Joyce Ester."AMS is an excellent example of Normandale working with community and industry partners to create opportunities for our students, and Donaldson has been a longstanding supporter of the college through this program and many other efforts at the college."

Over the course of the 14 years of AMS, Donaldson has provided a total of $259,000 in support the program.

"Normandale Community College is a great asset for our community and the Donaldson Foundation is proud to support the AMS program," said Donaldson Foundation President Allie Boyat. "Donaldson Company wants all students to see themselves in STEM, and this grant will help ensure underrepresented students can have this opportunity."

Data from a National Science Foundation study shows that in 2018 only 28% of women made up the national science and engineering workforce nationally. Another part of the study from 2015, showed that 67% of workers in science and engineering workforce were white. The 2019-20 AMS cohort of 75 students was comprised off 55% students of color, 38% female students, 64% pell-eligible students, and 51% first-generation students. 

In Fall 2019, 72% of the cohort had 3.0 GPA or better and 55% finished with a 3.5 GPA or better. Despite the transition to online courses during the COVID-19 pandemic in Spring 2020, 80% of the cohort had a 3.0 or better GPA, and 63% finished with a 3.5 or higher GPA. 

Of the 75 students in the cohort, 38 were scheduled to return for the 2020-21 academic year, 24 graduated (22) or sent into the workforce (2), nine transferred from Normandale, two switched majors and two left Normandale.

"At Normandale, we strive to provide a high level of preparation for employment and transfer opportunities through our STEM programs for our students," said Normandale Dean of STEM Cary Komoto. "Equally as important as the preparation, is the accessibility Normandale provides to our community for individuals from any background who want to pursue a STEM career. Our AMS program exemplifies these values, and we are extremely grateful for Donaldson's commitment to help us continue to provide high-touch opportunities to our students to ensure their success. In addition, the AMS program specifically addresses equity issues in STEM by targeting recruitment efforts towards populations that are historically underrepresented in STEM fields."