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LBC's SPRING program receives NSF Grant to support STEM students

The first graduating SPRING Scholars attend a farewell dinner in 2012

This week, LBC’s Scholarship Program for Retaining, Inspiring, and eNabling Graduates (SPRING) received a $650,000 National Science Foundation grant to help Briggs students with academic potential and financial need to earn their degree and start a career in a STEM field. The grant will allow the program to support up to thirty LBC students and evaluate the efficacy of the program.

SPRING scholars are provided scholarship money each year, totaling $18,000. The amount is increased over the course of their three years in the program to encourage retention.

The program creates two cohorts of thirteen to fifteen students who take required courses and go on group trips together. The goal of these cohorts is to provide students with a network of support within their peer group.

SPRING also helps prepares students for careers in STEM fields. They are advised on career options, professional skills and resume building by faculty advisors. They are also connected with faculty and alumni within their chosen field, to help them build a professional network. Students take tours of places like the Detroit Science Center and the Shedd Aquarium to explore different career options.

The SPRING program will focus its recruitment efforts on students already enrolled in LBC’s INQUIRE program, which serves students with lower math proficiency and who tend to stay in STEM majors at a lower rate than their peers. The INQUIRE program helps these students overcome their lower math preparation and successfully earn STEM degrees. The factors that lead to low math proficiency also correlate notably with high levels of financial need.

Recruiting INQUIRE students into the SPRING program will help them stay in college by relieving some of the financial difficulties they face. So far, SPRING has helped nearly fifty Lyman Briggs students on their path to graduation, with another fifteen expected to graduate this year.

The grant also provides research support to assess the efficacy of both the INQUIRE and SPRING programs so that LBC can share its successful aspects broadly to improve the educational experience of students across the country.

The grant was headed up by LBC’s Dr. Ryan Sweeder. Others on the grant include LBC Associate Dean Dr. Mark Largent, Dr. Samantha Cass, and Dr. Sean Valles, as well as the Executive Director of the Office of Financial Aid, Rick Shipman.