Sarah Ladd

Louisville Courier Journal

With the help of almost $1 million in federal grant money, Bellarmine University is looking to recruit Louisville high school students for a STEM education.

The Louisville liberal arts university announced the grant Friday, from the National Science Foundation, will be used to provide scholarships for 22 low-income, academically talented high school students.

While it will work to recruit from Jefferson County Public Schools, the scholarships won’t be restricted to them, according to Dr. Bill Fenton, one of the grant writers.

Called “STEM Career Pathways Scholarship,” the grant will allow Bellarmine to award $7,200 to the students, who will be split into two groups of 11 people. The first class starts in the fall of 2021 and the second in the fall of 2022. The university hopes to see a 75% retention rate for first-year students and a graduation rate of 70% among the Career Pathways students.

The goal is to then funnel the locally-educated talent back into Kentucky’s workforce, adding diversity to science, technology, engineering and math careers. An employer advisory board will help connect the students with local employers.

Some local companies which will work with Bellarmine are:

  • Appriss Inc.
  • edjAnalytics
  • El Toro
  • Humana
  • LG&E
  • Masonic Home Kentucky
  • GE Appliances
  • The Microsoft Future of Work Initiative

In a statement, Rep. John Yarmuth said the program is good for Louisville.

“This is a much-deserved investment in some of the brightest young minds around and will help level the playing field and increase diversity in key fields,” he said. “By investing in education, we invest in our workforce, in innovation and truly in our entire community.”

Bellarmine has recently taken several steps to broaden its geographical footprint and diversify its student body.

Last week, the university announced it would price match flagship universities around the country, thus removing cost from the competition equation. At the beginning of the semester, it also announced a special transfer partnership with Jefferson Community and Technical College to attract more community college students.