FLORENCE, S.C. — Florence-Darlington Technical College’s South Carolina Advanced Technological Education Center of Excellence has received an almost $3 million grant to help fund the Mentor-Connect program.

The National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education program funded the five-year grant. The is the third time the SCATE Center has received the grant.

The Mentor-Connect program provides community college STEM faculty with education on how to write grants for funding. According to Emery DeWitt, who is the project manager for the Mentor-Connect program, the program helps industry and economic growth.

DeWitt said the program provides each college team with a mentor for nine months and provides teams with digital grant-writing resources. Over the course of the five years, the Mentor-Connect program will host one nine-month mentorship each year, as well as two workshops each year for teams to meet with their mentors and attend in-person classes. This year’s workshops were held in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and Miami, Fla.

The program is completed online, with only the workshops being in person. Mentors assisting in the program work from all over the country.

Each year, teams consisting of two to three faculty members and a grant writer apply to the program, and 20 teams are selected from the applicants.

With the five-year grant, the Mentor-Connect program will be expanding to work with community colleges nationally, Dewitt said.

According to Dewitt, the Mentor-Connect program began in 2012 and has worked with 121 two-year colleges, 246 faculty members and 140 grant writers and administrators. 90 percent of people working with the Mentor-Connect program submitted NSF ATE grant proposals. The Mentor-Connect program has served teams from 35 states and 1 U.S. territory.

SCATE was created in 1996 to expand excellence in technician education and to help support business and industry. SCATE is funded by the NSF’s ATE initiative, according to the Mentor-Connect website.

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