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Summer Bridge Re-imagined: Leveraging Corporate Partnerships to Meet Recruiting Goals

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2021 CoNECD


Virtual - 1pm to 5pm Eastern Time Each Day

Publication Date

January 24, 2021

Start Date

January 24, 2021

End Date

January 28, 2021

Conference Session

CoNECD Session : Day 1 Slot 1 Technical Session 1

Tagged Topics

Diversity and CoNECD Paper Submissions

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Paper Authors


Sarah Miller University of Colorado, Boulder

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Sarah Miller provides vision and leadership for the recruitment, retention, and success of outstanding and diverse students, faculty, and staff to the University of Colorado Boulder’s College of Engineering and Applied Science. As Associate Dean for Access, Inclusion and Student Programs, she oversees the Broadening Opportunity through Leadership and Diversity (BOLD) Center, overseeing efforts to attract and prepare students for the rigors of engineering study and careers, and to improve student performance and graduation rates. Appointed in January 2014, Miller comes to CU-Boulder from the National Science Foundation, where she worked in STEM education as a American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow.

Sarah believes that every child deserves an excellent education. She has worked in inner-city public schools, both as a teacher and as an administrator, and in the admissions office of Amherst College, where she earned a B.A. in Chemistry. She holds a PhD from Yale University in chemical and environmental engineering, where her doctoral research produced a bio-based water purification system for removing arsenic from developing world water supplies.

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Cara Frances Lammey University of Colorado, Boulder

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Cara Lammey is the Program Manager for Access Pathways at the College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Colorado Boulder. She holds a B.A. in liberal arts from St. John's College.

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Five years ago, the diversity center within our engineering college made a deliberate shift in one of our strategies to recruit diverse undergraduates to our college. As the flagship institution in our state, we had been hosting high school summer bridge programs for many years, with a goal to share the joys of engineering with diverse prospective students. Despite significant financial investment from our large public research institution, we saw very little return on our investment. We were able to attract diverse K-12 students to participate in our summer programming, but we rarely ever saw them matriculate in our college.

Our diversity center supports a board of advisors. In a conversation with a business-minded board member in 2014, we were offered the opportunity to reinvent our K-12 summer bridge program. Our corporate partner was willing to fund a summer bridge if we met his goal of providing engineering exposure to youngsters who hadn’t been given that opportunity. We set about to create a bridge that would meet broadening participation desires while also meeting our recruiting needs.

Starting summer 2015, we launched the EngiNearMe summer program for rising high school seniors. This program was funded through the generosity of one corporate partner. It is a one-week, free summer program that exposes diverse students to engineering on our campus. All students who attend, who are admitted to our engineering college, and who matriculate in our college receive a scholarship. Over the past five years, the program has grown in size, scope and impact, such that it is now a residential experience and one that students across our state are eager to apply for. We consider it a model worth sharing for two key reasons: 1) This is a unique university-corporate partnership. We have been able to fund this with corporate support because we found a way to address corporate priorities and our priorities simultaneously. 2) We’ve used intentional and thoughtful assessment and operated through a model of continuous improvement. As such, we’ve been able to demonstrate significant improvements in five years. We have grown the program from 36 to 62 participants, and we’ve grown college matriculants from four participants to 14. We’ve doubled the scholarship for students, so that students now receive a total of $5,000 over their first two years in our college.

This presentation will share lessons learned and challenges through which we’ve navigated. We will discuss our unique corporate partnership and provide recommendations for others seeking such support. We will also discuss in detail our evaluation and assessment strategy and how it has supported the iterative improvements we’ve implemented over the program’s tenure.

Miller, S., & Lammey, C. F. (2021, January), Summer Bridge Re-imagined: Leveraging Corporate Partnerships to Meet Recruiting Goals Paper presented at 2021 CoNECD, Virtual - 1pm to 5pm Eastern Time Each Day . 10.18260/1-2--36124

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