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UST receives $100,000 grant from the CenterPoint Energy Foundation to fund STEM Success Center

CenterPoint Community Relations Manager Gloria  Bounds '03, MBA '05, UST President Richard Ludwick, CenterPoint Director of State & Federal Relations June Deadrick, MLA '02 with CenterPoint Communications Senior Specialist Geoffrey Castro '03, MBA '06The University of St. Thomas  is pleased to announce it is the recipient of a $100,000 grant from the CenterPoint Energy Foundation to support Peer Mentoring in the University’s STEM Student Success Center.

Associate Professor of Biology, Shivas Amin recognized that UST needed do more to prepare its community, many of whom are first-generation college students, for success in STEM courses and careers. In response, the University opened a STEM Student Success Center in 2016 to better help students excel in their introductory courses and to encourage persistence. In its first year, the Center received a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) Grant from the Department of Education of nearly $4M to support its initial start-up phase.

“Before the STEM Center existed, approximately 60% of incoming students expressed an interested in STEM majors; however, on graduation day the percentage of STEM degrees conferred was significantly lower. Many incoming students struggle with their introductory science and math courses and transfer into non-STEM majors,” Amin said.

As the HSI grant period neared its end, the University worked to pursue new sources of funding to keep the Center going. The CenterPoint Energy Foundation saw the Center's innovative Peer Mentoring Program's achievement record (an impressive 95% retention rate) and committed $100,000 to continue this important service. CenterPoint Energy Foundation’s donation will fund the Peer Mentoring Program for three years. This marks the second high-impact gift in support of the STEM Center, as the Hearst Foundation recently contributed $100,000 to support the Center’s day-to-day operations.

With so many high school students graduating without a sufficient STEM background necessary for collegiate success, the peer mentoring program supported by the CenterPoint Energy Foundation will impact hundreds of students, the ripple-effect of which can touch generations of low-income families. It fosters a learning community that helps lift at-risk students while simultaneously strengthening high performers.

“Our STEM students and faculty are thrilled to receive this generous support and are thankful to CenterPoint for helping their dreams become realized,” added Amin.

The CenterPoint Energy Foundation’s funding priorities target innovative, effective and measurable programs that enhance the quality of life within communities and support the two important giving pillars: community vitality and education. Under the education pillar, STEM education programs target under-resourced areas and under-represented populations. UST holds three distinctions for diversity from the Department of Education: Hispanic-Serving, Asia-Serving and Minority-Service Institution.

UST alumni Gloria Bounds ’03, MBA ’05, Community Relations Manager; Geoffrey Castro, ’03, MBA ’06, Communications Senior Specialist; and June Deadrick MLA ’02, Director of State & Federal Relations joined UST President Richard Ludwick, Larry Massey, UST Board Member; Dawn Koenning, Chief Development Officer; Dr. Shivas Amin; and others on January 31 for a $100,000 check presentation, followed by a celebration in Link-Lee Mansion.

For more information on the STEM Student Success Center or to support students pursuing STEM majors and careers, contact Matt Perkins in University Advancement at perkinmr@stthom.edu or 713-942-3415.