The Community College Outreach Program (CCOP) aims to advance diversity in STEM and reach out to the local communities by providing hands-on research opportunities and career mentoring to students at community colleges. Community Colleges host students of varying demographic and socioeconomic backgrounds, including first-generation and low-income students, who remain underrepresented in STEM. A dearth of research exposure and financial barriers strongly discourage students from seeking unpaid research internships, which could kindle their interest in STEM careers. For Stanford trainees, this program provides critical mentorship experience. Mentors take DEI mentorship training on Stanford platforms to learn how to foster an inclusive research environment in their current labs and in their future research groups. Overall, CCOP significantly benefits Stanford and the greater community by establishing connections between them, promoting inclusivity within Stanford research groups, and allowing Stanford labs to more fully reflect the greater Bay Area community.
CCOP aims to increase access to research opportunities and peer mentorship for Community College students from URM backgrounds and provide mentorship opportunities to Stanford trainees. The goal of CCOP is to provide Community College students valuable insight into working in a research environment/group, support and encourage students as they explore scientific fields for the first time, and support Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for groups underrepresented in STEM fields within Stanford and in the broader scientific community. CCOP establishes connections between the local community and Stanford by promoting inclusivity within Stanford research groups, and allowing Stanford labs to more fully reflect the greater Bay Area community.
CORE (CCOP Opportunities in Research Engagement) is a 10-week research internship program for community college students. Every year, our program runs three sessions (fall, spring, and summer). Students in the program will be treated as valued colleagues and will be taught about science and how to conduct research by their laboratory mentor.
The CCOP Transfer Preparation & Professional Development Bootcamp is designed to support community college students in scientific career development and help students gain skills that will enable them to prepare successful transfer applications and succeed in STEM fields.
In July 2020, two Developmental Biology Ph.D. students met with Olivia Viveros, the director of the MESA program at the College of San Mateo, to discuss ideas and logistics for initiating a research and mentorship program for community college students at Stanford University. That September, the CCOP Peer Mentorship program was initiated to provide transfer application help and career development workshops for local community college students – beginning with 9 students from the College of San Mateo. In follow-up surveys, most students reported successful transfer, and two students enrolled in summer research internships.
In November 2020, CCOP formed a relationship with Sandra Rodrigues, a STEM advisor at Cañada College and recruited students to the Peer Mentorship program with her help. Sandra also presented a transfer workshop for students in Fall 2021. In September 2021, CCOP formed a relationship with Sophia Kim at Foothill College and students from all three local community colleges enrolled in Science Small Groups (more than 30 students) and in CCOP’s first research internship program (5 students). To date, we have provided research internships to 24 mentees, enrolled 44 students in our Transfer Preparation & Career Development bootcamp (summer only) and provided peer mentorship in Science Small Groups to over 70 students.
Catalyzed by OCE’s Community College community of practice, this year CCOP added an additional community college partner, Santa Clara Mission College, via a connection with their MESA program coordinator, Edrina Rashidi. Students from all 4 of these community colleges – College of San Mateo, Cañada College, Foothill College, and Santa Clara Mission College – are currently participating in CCOP Science Small Groups (40 students), a virtual group mentorship program, and in the research internship program (5 students).
Thank you to the Developmental Biology (DB) Department and Chair, Anne Villeneuve, for supporting and providing funding for CCOP research internships.
CCOP was established by the Developmental Biology department and has now expanded to include funding from the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine and participation from the Genetics, Microbiology & Immunology, and Stem Cell Biology Departments. We are currently working on expanding our participation to other Stanford Biosciences departments and programs as well.
Our full-time, paid summer research program is supported by a Packard Foundation grant, with Dr. Alistair Boettiger and Dr. Kyle Loh’s (DB Faculty, Packard Fellows) support as corresponding investigators.
Additional funding and support have been provided by Kyle Cole and Stanford's Office of STEM Outreach, as well as the Office of the Vice Provost for Graduate Education's Diversity and Innovation Funds and the Office of Community Engagement.