Educational alliance gets $3 million grant to help students with disabilities earn college degrees

AUBURN – Researchers in an Alabama educational alliance have received a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation to help Alabama students with disabilities earn college degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and, ultimately, enter the workforce.

The funding was granted to the Alabama Alliance for Students with Disabilities in STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – which is a collaborative effort involving Alabama State University, Auburn University, Auburn University Montgomery, Tuskegee University, Central Alabama Community College, Southern Union State Community College and the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind. The alliance also includes six school districts in Lee, Chambers, Elmore, Montgomery, Macon and Tallapoosa counties and has an outreach component that covers the entire state.

“This grant will help students with disabilities succeed in higher education in Alabama,” said project director Overtoun Jenda, professor of mathematics and associate provost for Diversity and Multicultural Affairs at Auburn University. “It will provide opportunities that otherwise might not be available to these students.”

The grant will fund peer-mentoring endeavors such as Bridge to the Baccalaureate and Bridge to the Post-Baccalaureate programs, as well as a Graduate Bridge program and summer research internships. It will also provide mini-grants for research-based interventions at colleges and universities and will fund technology enhancements for Alabama Science in Motion, a program that provides high-tech laboratory experiences for high school students and professional development for teachers throughout the state.

“Having this collaborative effort among a variety of colleges, universities and high schools is a major accomplishment of each institution,” Auburn Provost Mary Ellen Mazey said. “Each is committed to the students and to providing Alabama’s high-tech industries with highly qualified graduates in science- and technology-related fields.”

Undergraduate students with disabilities participating in the Bridge programs will receive a renewable $2,000 stipend per academic year while participants in the Graduate Bridge program and summer research internships will receive $3,500 each. The Alabama alliance, one of nine such National Science Foundation-sponsored alliances in the country, will support 106 students with disabilities majoring in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines each year.

More information is available at

Contact: Charles Martin, (334) 844-9999 (, or
Mike Clardy, (334) 844-9999 (