FORT PIERCE — Indian River State College (IRSC) has received an $800,000 award from Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) to support diversity in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers. The funds will establish the Florida Power & Light Company Endowed Scholarship for black students seeking Associate in Science degrees at IRSC in the areas of Electrical Power Technology (ICE specialization), Computer Information Technology and Electronics Engineering Technology (such as robotics-manufacturing and laser-photonics specializations).
FPL will fund the endowed scholarship over four years; $200,000 is available for the 2022–2023 academic year. Scholarship funds may cover tuition, books, and supplies or be used to enroll in courses that provide additional certifications such as OSHA or CPR while attending IRSC. New and returning IRSC students may begin applying for the awards now by logging into their MyPioneerPortal account.
“IRSC’s longstanding partnership with Florida Power & Light centers around making a positive impact on people’s lives,” says Michael Hageloh, IRSC's interim vice president for institutional advancement. “Over the years, we have collaborated on programs that build essential workforce skills and put students into great paying jobs. FPL’s most recent commitment moves us closer to achieving another mutual goal—addressing racial opportunity gaps in STEM fields — and for that, we are immensely grateful.”
According to an April 2021 report from the Pew Research Center, Black workers comprise 11% of all employed adults but account for only 9% of adults employed in STEM occupations. Their share is lower in some STEM job clusters, including just 5% in engineering jobs. Further, Pew states that there has been no change in the share of Black workers in STEM jobs since 2016.
FPL’s commitment to IRSC will help remove financial barriers that may prevent black students from entering these fields.
“We are focused on breaking down barriers to opportunity by investing in STEM programs that empower our next generation of leaders. We are proud to energize IRSC’s dynamic STEM initiatives and provide support for students with this grant,” said Pamela Rauch, vice president of external affairs and economic development for FPL. “The Florida Power & Light Company Endowed Scholarship for black students will help inspire these innovators to obtain an Associate of Science degree — a strong foundation for landing a high-paying job in the technology field.”
The Florida Power & Light Company Endowed Scholarship is the most recent example of IRSC’s steadfastness to finding ways to remove barriers and support student diversity in STEM subjects. In September, the College announced a $4.9 million Hispanic-Serving Institutions STEM and Articulation Program grant from the U.S. Department of Education to increase the number of Hispanic and low-income students in STEM disciplines. These opportunities, combined with integrated academic and student support strategies and activities that promote retention and graduation, will help IRSC increase the number of undergraduates from under-represented groups who successfully complete STEM studies.
To learn more about Florida Power & Light Company Endowed Scholarship and other student funding opportunities available through the IRSC Foundation, visit irscfoundation.org.