Sept. 7, 2021 – Valparaiso, Indiana – The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded Valpo a six-year, $1.5 million grant to fund the Establishing Practices Integrating Commuters Plus (EPIC+) program.

aerial photo of students walking on campus

The EPIC+ program will provide scholarships, undergraduate research opportunities, mentorships and social support for commuter students in Northwest Indiana. The program will use a multi-faceted, targeted recruitment strategy to reach underrepresented students who are pursuing a major in science, technology or mathematics.

“The goal of EPIC+ is to recruit and retain high-achieving students from diverse populations, especially first-generation and historically underrepresented students, by engaging them in experiential learning opportunities,” said Eric W. Johnson ’87, Ph.D., provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “This project directly supports the NSF’s efforts and Valpo’s goal to increase the diversity of STEM scholars and the workforce at large.”

EPIC+ aims to alleviate financial and social challenges that impede a commuter student’s ability to participate in the various academic and co-curricular activities that are available on a residential college campus. EPIC+ scholars receive enhanced academic opportunities to integrate them into the wider campus and scholarly community including: a multi-year research experience, participation in scientific conferences, presenting at departmental colloquia, faculty mentoring, career networking and peer support.

EPIC+ is a continuation of the original EPIC program, which demonstrated students in the program were more likely to succeed in STEM studies than Valpo’s general STEM student body.

The funding comes as part of NSF’s Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S-STEM) program. S-STEM grants enables low-income, talented domestic students to pursue successful careers in promising STEM fields.