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Westfield State University awarded several sizable grants, including $1.8 million HRSA awards

Westfield—Westfield State University recently received several grant awards to support programs in social work, mathematics and science, as well as critical dual enrollment initiatives.

$1.8 million awarded to support MSW and addiction counselor and recovery programs

The university received two awards from the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training Program for both professional and paraprofessional program development and support. 

The professional grant award in the amount of nearly $1.3 million spans over four years, providing students enrolled in the Master of Social Work program financial support for fieldwork placements in the area of integrated healthcare services. This grant also provides opportunities for comprehensive integrated behavioral health training for Westfield State students and faculty across disciplines, field supervisors and professionals working to improve health outcomes in medically underserved areas. Dr. Nora Padykula, associate professor in the Department of Social Work, is the principal investigator for the professional grant. 

The paraprofessional grant award, in the amount of more than $550,000, spans over four years and allows for the expansion of the Addiction Counselor Education non-credit certificate program into Berkshire County. The grant provides resources to develop a new non-credit Addiction Recovery Coach program and provides scholarships to participating students. Jessica Tansey, director of program development and outreach initiatives in the College of Graduate and Continuing Education, is the grant’s principal investigator.

$86,000 grant allows for continuation of Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative

Westfield State University was awarded an $86,000 grant by Massachusetts Commissioner of Higher Education Carlos Santiago to continue the university’s Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative (ICEI). The grant covers tuition, books, program activities, campus fees and staff salaries.

The ICEI provides dual-enrollment opportunities for students ages 18–21 that have intellectual disabilities and are still receiving special education services through their school districts. ICEI students enroll in 100- and 200-level courses alongside traditional day students at Westfield State. Course choices generally reflect the ICEI students’ long-term employment goals.

Westfield State is one of 15 ICEI programs in the Commonwealth and partners with 11 area school districts: Agawam, Amherst, Chicopee, Hampden Wilbraham, Hampden Charter School of Science, Longmeadow, Ludlow, Southwick Tolland Granville Regional, Springfield, West Springfield, and Westfield.

The ICEI program began at Westfield State in 2013 with five students and has grown to the second largest in the Commonwealth with 25 students enrolled this fall. In addition to the Westfield State courses, students are offered seminars to target and refine their skills in the areas of academics, employment, social-emotional, and health and wellness. Students also participate in pIeCES (Positive Inclusion of Everyone Creates Educational Success), a student-run peer mentor group which allows ICEI students to interact with other students on campus, providing opportunities to develop social-emotional skills during weeknight and weekend visits. 

According to Westfield State Program Coordinator Lyndsey Nunes, the program is pivotal for students. “The ICEI program is important for all Westfield State students, staff, and faculty,” said Nunes. “As the world is becoming a more inclusive place on many avenues, it makes sense that Westfield State is prioritizing inclusion as a skill and benefit to all students as they continue their education and enter the workforce.”

$82,000 grant slated to support STEM teaching initiatives

Westfield State University has been awarded a Massachusetts Mathematics and Science Partnership (MMSP) Continuation Grant of nearly $82,000. Using a theme of the Interaction of Earth’s Spheres, STEM educators will benefit from new approaches to content, innovative instructional practices, and a focus on interdisciplinary activities.

“The goal of our program is to provide a course that models an interdisciplinary approach to teaching STEM,” said Jennifer Hanselman, Ph.D., chair, Department of Biology and director of the project. “Teachers walk away with interdisciplinary, inquiry-based activities for the students.”

Through the leadership of Hanselman and James Wright, Ph.D., associate professor of Mathematics, Westfield State partners with high-needs school districts Westfield and Monson, as well as Saint Mary’s Parish School in Westfield. The grant will fund work to support teachers in third through eighth grade to develop activities that connect math and science to embrace the true nature of STEM activities. The grant also supports sending Westfield State students into the classroom to assist teachers with this initiative.

Teachers enroll in a summer workshop, with online follow-up. This year, in Westfield State’s third year of the grant, the series of instruction continues with topical workshops to keep teachers engaged, collaborating across disciplines and sharing best practices. In November, 28 local teachers will gather for a workshop to share the work they did over the summer and how they applied it in their classrooms this fall.

“We’re trying to bridge that community of mutual support for our students’ development as well as that of the local classrooms,” said Hanselman. “Our collaboration with these local schools deepens our relationship beyond just student placements. It positions Westfield State as a resource for local public schools and it enables the university to learn more about the K-12 setting to help strengthen the commitment to STEM education.”

$40,000 award extends CDEP grant program for Westfield Promise initiative

Westfield State University received a $40,000 grant award for the Commonwealth Dual Enrollment Partnership (CDEP) grant program. The monies will be allocated to continue support of the university’s Westfield Promise initiative.

An innovative early college experience program, The Westfield Promise established partnerships between Westfield State and public high schools in Holyoke, Springfield, and Westfield. In this program, Westfield State faculty co-teach what is known as a “stretch year” course with the high school faculty to high school juniors. Aimed to benefit underrepresented student populations, including first-generation students, the program provides high school students with an early exposure to the rigor of university-level study and immerses them into the campus environment – enabling them to more clearly visualize themselves completing a four-year degree.

“The Westfield Promise is a unique pathway that combines the best designs in early college experiences to address issues of accessibility while assuring high quality programming,” said Shelley Tinkham, Ph.D., dean of the College of Graduate and Continuing Education (CGCE). “By providing remote programming at students’ high schools in their junior year and on-campus courses during the senior year, students are eased into the college experience and are provided with the support and experiences to develop the skills necessary to be successful in college. We regard the Westfield Promise as not a college entrance program but rather a college completion program.” 

The program began this fall with 91 students participating. If they meet the appropriate admissions criteria of the university, these students will eventually earn preferred admission to Westfield State, with the hope that they will enroll. Ryan Meersman, CGCE’s Early College Access Coordinator, serves as the grant’s principal point of contact.

Founded in 1839 by Horace Mann, Westfield State University is an education leader committed to providing every generation of students with a learning experience built on its founding principle as the first public, co-educational college in America to offer an education without barrier to race, gender or economic status. This spirit of innovative thinking and social responsibility is forged in a curriculum of liberal arts and professional studies that creates a vital community of engaged learners who become confident, capable individuals prepared for leadership and service to society.  For more information on Westfield State University, visit www.westfield.ma.edu, www.twitter.com/westfieldstate, or https://www.facebook.com/WestfieldStateUniversity.

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