Commonwealth University Awarded $2.5 Million NSF Grant to Provide Scholarships



New CU-Thrive in STEM Program Will Support Financially Disadvantaged Students to Pursue Science and Technology Fields

The National Science Foundation has awarded a six-year, $2.5 million grant to Commonwealth University of Pennsylvania through its Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S-STEM) program.

The CU-THRIVE in STEM Project will aid in the recruitment, retention, and graduation of academically talented students with demonstrated financial need, giving them a Targeted, Holistic Roadmap for an Inclusive, Valuable Education while providing the Commonwealth with well-educated graduates to fill the growing demand for scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and technicians.

The grant, available beginning in the fall semester of 2024, will fund renewable scholarships for an estimated 38 students. Qualifying students pursuing bachelor's degrees in biology, chemistry, computer science, digital forensics and cybersecurity, engineering, geosciences, mathematics, and physics at the Bloomsburg, Lock Haven, and Mansfield locations will receive four years of renewable scholarships up to $15,000 in last-dollar scholarships.

"These scholarships are aligned with our mission as an institution and with the mission of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education," said Latha Ramakrishnan, dean of the College of Science and Technology. "Our mission is to provide the very best education possible and make that education accessible to all students. Over its six-year duration, this grant will provide four years of scholarship support to three cohorts of 12 or 13 students or 152 scholarships to 38 unique first-time, full-time students. Students can receive a full, 'free ride,' scholarship for four years."

The CU-THRIVE in STEM Program will also provide scholars with evidence-based academic, social, and professional supports. A summer bridge experience, first-year learning community, service-learning research project, customizable professional experience grants, peer and faculty mentors, and STEM-dedicated career development will set CU-THRIVE scholars up for success at CU and beyond in their STEM careers.

"It really took a village to create this grant," said project principal investigator Dr. Jennifer Whisner. "The expertise and experience of co-investigators Dr. Kate Beishline in biology at the Bloomsburg campus, Dr. Mike Cullin in biochemistry, chemistry, engineering, and physics at the Lock Haven campus, Dr. Kristen Long in biology at the Mansfield campus, and Dr. Barry Minemeyer in mathematics, computer science, and digital forensics at the Bloomsburg campus were critical to the proposal's success. In fact, faculty, staff, and administration at all campuses and at all levels jumped in enthusiastically with ideas, data, and support for this program that will help high-achieving students who might otherwise not attend college succeed in STEM at CU."

"The CU-THRIVE in STEM program presents a dynamic example of the power of three and what is possible at Commonwealth University by harnessing the strengths of our locations to provide opportunities for students to succeed. Thank you to the faculty and staff who have worked diligently to bring this grant program to life. Increasing diversity and opportunity within the STEM field and future workforce benefits our students, our local economies, and the state. I'm eager to see what all of our students will achieve through CU-THRIVE in STEM," said Bashar W. Hanna, President of Commonwealth University.

THE CU-THRIVE in STEM project is beginning to recruit scholars for the 2024-2025 academic year. Interested students need to apply to Commonwealth University by December 15 and be sure to complete their FAFSA form. Qualifications for the scholarship include academic and GPA measures, U.S. citizenship, and having unmet financial need.

Information about the scholarship is available at

Acknowledgment and Disclaimer: This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 2322581. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.