Mentor-Connect Guides Faculty Toward Successful Submission of NSF ATE Proposals

Leading Fortune 500 companies have improved employee retention by as much as 75 percent through mentoring initiatives. A recent MentorcliQ (a mentoring software company) study found that becoming more involved in mentoring as mentors or sponsors, leads to a culture of learning, development, and camaraderie. 

Mentor-Connect (M-C) is a free service to help two-year college STEM faculty prepare competitive grant proposals for submission to the National Science Foundation (NSF) Advanced Technological Education (ATE) Program.

Since its 2012 launch, 141 ATE proposals have been submitted from 164 colleges that have participated in the first eight cohorts (86% submission rate). Overall,160 two-year technical colleges have been served by the Mentor-Connect New-to-ATE project with 41 states reached as well as Puerto Rico and American Samoa (US territories) with Cohorts 1 through 9.

During the MNT-EC seminar series, Mel Cossette, Greg Kepner, and Elaine Craft discussed what Mentor-Connect is, how they are working with the Micro Nano Technology Education Center (MNT-EC) and how they guide faculty from two year institutions to write an NSF proposal for the Advanced Technological Education (ATE) directorate that focuses on technician education. 

According to the M-C website section, Get A Mentor, Mentor-Connect offers three types of no-cost mentoring to community colleges seeking to improve technician and related STEM education through projects funded by NSF ATE. Online applications are available on site.

  • New-to-ATE (Deadline: October 8, 2021). This mentor program helps colleges develop grant proposals for the Small Grants for Institutions New to ATE track. (Colleges are considered new to ATE if they have not received ATE funding in the past seven years.)
  • Second-Chance (Deadline: April 1, 2021). Mentor-Connect invites colleges interested in reworking and resubmitting New-to-ATE proposals that were initially declined when submitted to the National Science Foundation (NSF) to apply for Second-Chance Mentoring. Eligible colleges include:
    • (1) those whose first proposal to the Small Grants for Institutions New to ATE was declined, and
    • (2) those who successfully completed a Small Grants for Institutions New to ATE project and subsequently submitted a proposal for a full ATE Project that was declined.
  • Moving-Up (Deadline: April 1, 2021) is focused on helping colleges that received funding in the Small Grants for Institutions New to ATE track to develop larger ATE Project proposals. 

In the Find A Grant Resource section, prospective grant recipients will find a range of excellent guides to help them navigate the world of NSF grant funding. In the Resource Library, there is a recent list of downloadable videos in their Coffee Break Webinar Series that are worth a look. Some of the videos are also found on the Mentor-Connect YouTube channel which is packed with information and tutorials about how to get started with NSF ATE grants.

Like the best Fortune 500 companies found in their mentoring programs, Mentor-Connect also has been instrumental in building mentoring culture and success in community college faculty. The trends are clear: Mentoring programs keep people engaged, productive, and resilient. 

The Mentor-Connect project is funded through the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education program and formed out of Florence-Darlington Technical College‚Äôs South Carolina Advanced Technological Education Center of Excellence (SC ATE): National Resource Center in Florence, SC. DUE #1501183 & #1840856 Mentor-Connect: A Leadership Development and Outreach Initiative for ATE.