This story has been updated.
DOBBS FERRY, N.Y. -- U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey secured a federal grant worth nearly $700,000 to bolster STEM programs at Mercy College and Westchester Community College -- focusing the assistance on helping Hispanic and low-income students.
Lowey, a Democrat who represents Westchester and Rockland counties, announced the Department of Education grant on Thursday at the Mercy College Wellness Initiative Fair.
She was joined at a news conference by Mercy College President Timothy Hall, Westchester Community College Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Peggy Bradford, as well as administrators from both local colleges.
The federal money is allocated through the Education Department's Hispanic Serving Institution - Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics (HSI STEM) and Articulation Program. Lowey said it will help create "Team STEM," a five-year joint program between Mercy College and Westchester Community College to help students complete studies in STEM fields.
“Educating more students in STEM fields is one of the most productive steps we can take to strengthen our economy,” Lowey said.
Lowey, who is running unopposed for a 14th term in Congress on Nov. 8, said that the specialized programs will help prepare prospective college graduates for the "more than 2,500 unfilled positions in the Lower Hudson Valley" that require STEM studies, particularly in the fields of health care and software engineering.
“We are grateful for this grant and for the support we receive from Congresswoman Lowey,” Hall said. “We are a proud Hispanic serving institution, and these dollars will allow Mercy College to open the minds of so many of our students. With knowledge and motivation, the possibilities are endless.”
Belinda. S. Miles, president of WCC said in a press statement, “Westchester Community College is uniquely positioned to help our many talented Hispanic and underrepresented students pursue STEM careers.
Miles said that WCC’s partnership with Mercy College "and our six StepUP high schools will provide rigorous academic preparation for successful transition into college and transfer into baccalaureate degree programs."
The six StepUP high schools, according to a Lowey spokesman, are Riverside and Saunders, both in Yonkers; New Rochelle, Port Chester, Ossining and Sleepy Hollow.
Team STEM will focus on two- and four-year Hispanic and/or low-income undergraduates seeking to complete a bachelor’s degree within six years in one of six STEM disciplines offered at Mercy College: Biology, Psychology, Mathematics, Computer Science, Computer Information Science and Cybersecurity. Team STEM also will offer three new student-centered initiatives designed to improve the persistence, retention and graduation rates of Hispanic and low-income STEM students.