Red Rocks Community College Secures Federal Funding to Close Equity Gaps in STEM


$300,000 will support program that diversifies high-tech fields 

Red Rocks Community College (RRCC) secured $300,000 in federal funding for a workforce development program that aims to diversify science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. Led by Congressman Ed Perlmutter, the investment is part of a $7.6 million package benefitting Jefferson and Arapahoe Counties that recently passed the U.S. House of Representatives.

The funds will go towards RRCC’s Reach, Reason, Connect and Create initiative that aims to recruit and retain more Coloradans of color in high tech industries, especially Latinx and Hispanic students who make up a growing share of the college’s service area. With campuses in Lakewood and Arvada, RRCC partners with several top companies in aerospace, energy, cybersecurity, and other advanced fields that have significant demand for skilled workers.

With this funding, RRCC can positively increase the number of Coloradans of color who obtain a college degree.
- Dr. Michele Haney, President, RRCC
“We are grateful to Congressman Perlmutter for supporting this innovative program,” said Dr. Michele Haney, president of RRCC. “With this funding, RRCC can positively increase the number of Coloradans of color who obtain a college degree and ultimately start their career in one of the many high-tech industries in our service area.”

As part of the initiative, RRCC will design “stackable” credential pathways in aerospace, energy, and cybersecurity that lead to an associate degree in engineering science. Administrators hope to forge transfer agreements with Colorado universities so program graduates can pursue a four-year engineering degree. Program participants will also have access to wraparound services, including mentoring, tutoring, and career exploration.

“RRCC believes in connecting student learning to the real world, and this initiative will help students build strong ties to future employers,” said Dr. Lisa Fowler, RRCC vice president of student affairs. “We are also excited to include holistic support services to ensure students have the resources they need to thrive.”

Beyond academic programming, staff plan to launch high school recruitment programs and bilingual marketing campaigns to boost enrollment from Latinx and Hispanic communities. RRCC will also offer a summer bridge program that hosts STEM competitions, field trips, career workshops, and other social events for students.

RRCC staff began developing the program last fall and hope to launch it by this October. For information and updates, visit the RRCC website.

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