Saint Mary’s Awarded National Science Foundation Robert Noyce Grant for Justice-Oriented STEM Teacher Education, Student Scholarships, and Research

The project aims to address the STEM teacher shortage in diverse and high-need schools by recruiting, supporting, connecting, and sustaining equity and justice-oriented teacher candidates in SMC’s 4+1 teaching program.

by Kalmanovitz School of Education, School of Science, and Justice, Community, and Leadership Communications Staff | April 13, 2023

Saint Mary’s College of California has been awarded a five-year, $1.2 million Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Track 1 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for the project Preparing Humanizing and Culturally Relevant STEM Teachers through STEM Teacher Education Grounded in Justice, Community, and Leadership, led by Principal Investigator Dr. Mary Raygoza from the Kalmanovitz School of Education and Co-Principal Investigator Dr. Vidya Chandrasekaran from the School of Science. The goal of this collaboration between the School of Science (SOS) and the Kalmanovitz School of Education (KSOE) is to prepare socially and culturally responsive K–12 STEM teachers. 

The program curriculum and other program elements in this grant were developed through a collaboration between faculty in SOS departments, the Teacher Education department in KSOE, and the Justice, Community, and Leadership program in the School of Liberal Arts. They were funded by a NSF Robert Noyce Capacity Grant. 

Seventeen Noyce scholars will be awarded substantial scholarships for up to three years beginning in their junior, senior, or +1 year to complete the STEM Teachers for Justice, Community, and Leadership teaching pathway consisting of a BA/BS in a STEM discipline (biology, biochemistry, chemistry, earth and environmental science, mathematics, or physics); a minor in Justice, Community, and Leadership; and in the fifth or +1 year, students will complete their secondary education teaching credential and Master of Arts in Teaching.

With a 27 percent decrease in STEM certificates nationally in the last 10 years—a need even more pronounced in Title I schools in the Bay Area—this is a critical time to address STEM teacher recruitment, preparation, and retention.


Mary Raygoza and Vidya Chandrasekaran
With support from the NSF, educating future STEM teachers from diverse backgrounds: Mary Raygoza, left, and Vidya Chandrasekaran

Dr. Raygoza explained, “To address this need, we will support STEM teachers of diverse backgrounds to enter the profession grounded in humanizing, culturally responsive, justice-oriented, and rigorous STEM disciplinary practices and to persist in it as transformative teacher change agents in high-need public schools.”

Dr. Chandrasekaran agreed, adding, “We are excited that this grant will help us support our STEM students in their passion to be culturally responsible K-12 STEM teachers. This is a critical step to help attract a diverse group of students to various STEM professions.”

Drs. Raygoza and Chandrasekaran will be supported through the grant to lead a faculty learning community at SMC; establish a community of practice with teachers in the field; and conduct research studying Noyce scholars’ progression along the nexus of STEM disciplinary, teaching pedagogy, and justice studies to ultimately make an impact in the field of STEM teacher education broadly.

This NSF Noyce Track 1 grant extends the collaboration between Saint Mary’s College and the Mt. Diablo Unified School District, which together have strengthened and empowered STEM teachers and students through previous NSF Noyce Capacity Building Grant funding. This collaboration laid the groundwork necessary to assess STEM education needs in MDUSD which has informed the STEM Teachers for JCL teaching pathway.

The district partnership is a meaningful one to Dr. Raygoza. “As a graduate of MDUSD schools myself, I am particularly excited about continued collaboration with the youth, teachers, and leaders in the MDUSD to enhance SMC’s STEM teacher pipeline into the district’s Title I schools,” she said.

If you are interested in learning more about the Noyce scholarship program, please contact Drs. Mary Raygoza ( and Vidya Chandrasekaran ( A web page with the first call for Noyce scholarship applications will soon be announced. 


Story updated April 20, 2023.

LEARN MORE about the people and programs at the Kalmanovitz School of Education, the School of Science, and the School of Liberal Arts, including ongoing work in STEM education at Saint Mary’s.