GeoFORCE is recognized as a Presidential Awardee for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring for its remarkable success encouraging underrepresented minority students from rural South Texas and inner-city Houston to take on the challenges of a rigorous mathematics and science curriculum and pursue higher education in these fields.
Each summer GeoFORCE takes more than 600 high school students on geosciences field trips across the U.S., including spectacular locations such as the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, and Mount St. Helens, to name just a few. The trips are led by university faculty and research scientists and students are mentored by professional geologists from GeoFORCE industry partners. The trips engage and empower the students by exposing them to spectacular field-based experiences and the program continues to motivate and monitor participating students each year of their high school career and into college. Beginning in 2010, GeoFORCE added a formal college mentoring and support program.
GeoFORCE currently works with 900 students from grades 9 to 15, adding 160 students annually. About 64% of the students are girls. To date, the high school graduation rate is 100% and the college matriculation rate is over 95%. Currently, 287 GeoFORCE participants have graduated from high school and 267 are enrolled in over 50 colleges and universities throughout the US.
The GeoFORCE model employs a targeted approach to reach areas of Southwest Texas and urban Houston (both areas have a high percentage of minority students).
GeoFORCE professional staff identifies students (beginning in the eighth grade) who have shown a proclivity to excel in school. Each of the four years of their participation students (grades 9-12) are engaged with science outside the classroom. The program continues its mentoring activities through college graduation with counseling and financial aid support. The GeoFORCE approach builds on seven key features:
• Recruit them young; keep them engaged
• Target high-needs areas
• Keep the focus on college
• Use geosciences to engage and inspire
• Surround students with good academic and career role models
• Provide support at critical transitions