Alamance Community College has received a $169,000 Student STEM Enrichment Grant from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund to support the school’s ongoing Medical Bridge for Minority Males program.
The Burroughs Wellcome Fund grant will begin its financial support starting in July 2019 and will continue over three years.
ACC, in partnership with Alamance-Burlington Schools and UNC Chapel Hill Medical School, piloted and funded the first Medical Bridge for Minority Males cohort in summer 2017 in response to national statistics that show a disparity of minority males enroll and graduate from medical schools each year.
Only 515 black males graduated from all U.S. medical schools in 2015, down from a high of 683 in 1998. Also in 2015, only 404 Hispanic males graduated from medical school.
ACC’s pilot program in 2017 offered 40 6th-8th grade boys early exposure to STEM careers; extensive role modeling by professionals of color; hands-on, challenging and fun instruction; and rigorous math, science, and communication skills.
With the program’s success, a combination of companies and a foundation supported the 2018 cohort for a one-time commitment. This summer’s program welcomed back the original 40 students, while adding a new 6th grade class. The program will eventually include seven classes of 14 students each from 6th-12th grades.
Lakeisha Vance, former Department Head for Information Technologies at ACC, served as director of the program.
In addition to the three-week summer camp, the 2018 cohort stays connected and engaged through a variety of science activities, such as Family Academy meetings hosted by ABSS where college and career opportunities are discussed; eight Saturday sessions at UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine; and Science Day at ACC to learn about the impact of health on minority communities. In summer 2018 students also visited Duke University Hospital and biosciences labs at NC Central University. UNC-Chapel Hill medical students and local medical professionals spoke and ate lunch with the students at the camp.
Building on the students’ enthusiasm, the College hopes to seamlessly transition these young men from middle school through high school and on into college course work for two years at ACC. Students then would transfer to a four-year college or university to continue their training.
For more than two decades, the Fund has supported programs that provide hands-on STEM education activities, according to Burroughs President Dr. John Burris. As of 2017, Burroughs’ Student STEM Enrichment Program has reached an estimated 38,000 N.C. students. The Fund received 89 applications from non-profit organizations across the state in 2018.
“We are very grateful to the Burroughs Wellcome Fund for their generous support of ACC’s Medical Bridge Program for Minority Males,” said College President Algie Gatewood. “This worthwhile and far-reaching initiative – created and piloted by Alamance Community College – is making an impact on the under-served young male populations of our community. Thanks to the Burroughs Wellcome Fund grant, we can continue to make a difference in the lives of these young men over the next several years as they matriculate into their studies and look forward to successful futures in science and medicine.”