AURORA, CO. – Excitement continues to form at the Community College of Aurora (CCA) after Xcel Energy, “a major U.S. electricity and natural gas service provider that serves 1.4 million electric and 1.4 million gas customers and leads the state in transitioning to a clean energy future” awarded CCA a fifteen thousand dollar grant to facilitate hands-on experiential learning opportunities for students in STEM disciplines as part of their Energizing the Future grant program.

This contribution from Xcel comes just days after CU Boulder announced a 10.9 million dollar grant supporting underrepresented Denver-metro students pursuing engineering degrees.

“We are proud to announce our partnership with Xcel Energy,” said Dr. Mordecai Ian Brownlee, President of the Community College of Aurora. “As an institution we will continue to invest in academic programming that will propel our students from the classroom into high-wage and high-earning career fields.”

Xcel Energy’s Social Investments Lead Lacey Golonka added, “The Community College of Aurora stands tall as a pillar in the greater Aurora metroplex and continues to play a vital role in building out the state’s workforce; these dollars will expand STEM education opportunities and connect emerging and existing talent to STEM Careers. We will produce a more educated society together.”

The STEM workforce continues to grow rapidly. However, newly compiled data by the Pew Research Center suggest that, “Black and Hispanic workers remain significantly underrepresented within the field.” Dr. Angela Marquez (CCA’s Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) said, “What excites me the most about this generous contribution is that more students of color, and first-generation college students will have access to resources and programming.”

On Thursday, October 6th, CCA’s Division of Career Services hosted a STEM mixer for currently enrolled and soon to be students. The mixer gave students the opportunity to, “network and gain early exposure with prospective employers, garner information regarding internships, and to gain insight into the many career avenues that exist within the STEM industry” said Towanna Henderson, Career Advisor at the Community College of Aurora. The department has made it a priority this semester to ensure that it places a significant focus on early job exposure to students within the colleges’ various pathways. A number of events are planned for the remainder of the fall semester.

In 2021 Xcel Energy invested more than $1.6 million into innovative STEM education programs. “Having a workforce that is diverse and reflective of the communities we serve is important,” says Xcel Energy’s Golonka.

“Since 2015, Xcel Energy has continuously made contributions to support CCA students to stay on the path toward a college credential. We are thankful for their impactful support of our STEM students.” said John Wolfkill, Executive Director of the CCA Foundation.

CCA’s President Dr. Mordecai Ian Brownlee closed by saying, “Social and economic mobility, the Community College of Aurora is committed to it for our students, and so is Xcel Energy.”