Planning and Priorities of the Bridges to the Future Program

National Institute of General Medical Sciences, NIH
Office of Research on Minority Health, NIH
September 27, 1999


Introduction

The purpose of this document is to guide the NIH Bridges to the Future Program in its planning, policies, and management. Individual grantees may find the report useful; however, each grantee should determine its own mission, goals, and objectives based on its own needs and institutional plans.

The Bridges to the Future Program was established in 1992 to facilitate specific transitions in the career paths of underrepresented minority scientists. Since then, the National Institutes of Health and the community of Bridges grantees have gained considerable experience with respect to realistic expectations, program management, and strategies for improving outcomes. This seemed to be a very appropriate time to consider the direction of the Bridges to the Future Program. With the encouragement of the National Advisory General Medical Sciences Council, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) convened a working group on September 27, 1999 to develop a plan and set of priorities for the Bridges to the Future Program based on the original vision and the accumulated experiences of the Bridges community. The plan includes a mission statement, goals, objectives, and evaluation criteria to measure program success.


Mission

The mission of the Bridges to the Future Program is to make available to the biomedical science research enterprise and to the Nation the intellectual talents of an increasing number of underrepresented minority group members. It does so by facilitating the transition of students from associate to baccalaureate degree-granting institutions and from master's to doctoral degree-granting institutions. The program promotes effective inter-institutional partnerships that lead to improvement in the quality and quantity of underrepresented minority students being trained as the next generation of scientists.


Goals

  • Increase the number of underrepresented minority biomedical scientists.
  • Improve the ability of educational institutions to train and graduate underrepresented minority students in the biomedical sciences.
  • Develop partnerships that support and facilitate underrepresented minority student transfers at key points in the educational pipeline.

Specific Objectives arrow and Measures box

The working group identified a number of goals to be achieved by 2005. The following objectives and measures provide ways for NIGMS to evaluate the progress of the Bridges to the Future Program in achieving these goals over the course of the next 5 years. With experience, NIGMS expects to identify both the best measures of success and the best ways to collect data to document progress.

Through its E-STAR reporting system, NIGMS has collected data on outcomes of Bridges to the Future students since the inception of the program. As of September 1999, the Institute staff knows the following:

  • After 5 years, 70 percent of all baccalaureate Bridges students have transferred to a 4-year institution. By comparison, 26 percent of all community college students nationally transfer to a 4-year program.
  • Of the baccalaureate Bridges students who transfer, 45 percent complete the 4-year degree.
  • After 5 years, 57 percent of doctoral Bridges students have transferred to a Ph.D. program. Of these students, about 60 percent have obtained or are still seeking the advanced degree.

Success can be measured against these data. Following each of the program goals below are specific measurable objectives and measures of progress. The likely source of information for each measure is given in parentheses.

Goal: Increase the number of underrepresented minority biomedical scientists.

arrow Increase the number and percentage of underrepresented minority students in Bridges institutions who successfully transfer from associate to baccalaureate degree-granting institutions and from master's to doctoral degree-granting institutions by achieving a 90 percent transfer rate .
  • Track the number of Bridges students who transfer to the second-level institution. (E-STAR)
arrow Increase the number and percentage of underrepresented minority students in Bridges institutions who successfully complete the baccalaureate and doctoral degrees by achieving a completion rate of 70 percent of all students who transfer .
  • Track the number of students from Bridges institutions who graduate with the second-level degree. (E-STAR)
arrow Of the students from Bridges institutions who complete the second-level degree, 90 percent should enter biomedical research careers .
  • Track the career choices of Bridges students. (E-STAR)

Goal: Improve the ability of educational institutions to train and graduate underrepresented minority students in the biomedical sciences.

arrow Provide opportunities for students and faculty in Bridges institutions to conduct research projects such that 100 percent of students have conducted an independent research project by the time they transfer .
  • Track the number of students and faculty from associate and master's degree-granting institutions who conduct biomedical research at their own institutions; at the second-level partner institutions; or at other academic, private, or government laboratories. (grant applications)
  • Track the number of publications by students and faculty from associate and master's degree-granting institutions. (grant applications)
arrow Provide the quality of education that will give Bridges students the academic and research tools they need to contribute at an increasingly complex scientific frontier.
  • Determine how well-prepared students from Bridges institutions are when they transfer to the second-level institution. When they transfer, baccalaureate Bridges students should be fully prepared to enter as juniors in their major. Doctoral Bridges students should be prepared to start their dissertation research. (focus groups, applications)
arrow Provide outstanding advising and mentoring to Bridges students.
  • Identify and disseminate successful strategies, including career counseling, advice on coursework, and mentoring by faculty and former Bridges students. (focus groups)
arrow Assure that Bridges students achieve or exceed national norms on a variety of measures.
  • Track student performance on the Graduate Record Examination or other standardized tests. (applications)
  • Track the availability of classes that address test-taking, networking skills, and presentation and writing skills. (applications)

Goal: Develop partnerships that support and facilitate underrepresented minority student transfers at key points in the educational pipeline.

arrow Improve program articulation between institutions in Bridges partnerships.
  • Track the success of students who transfer into institutions. (E-STAR)
  • Track strategies for improving articulation, such as distance education and faculty training. (applications)
  • Track successful articulation of core courses between partner institutions. (applications)
arrow Increase collaborative teaching and research activities between partner institutions.
  • Track the number of courses designed and/or taught by faculty among partner institutions. (applications)
  • Track the number of collaborative research projects carried out by faculty and students among partner institutions. (applications)

A Vision for Bridges to the Future

The Bridges to the Future Program is one piece of a larger mosaic of programs at the National Institutes of Health that are designed to increase the number of underrepresented minority scientists engaged in research and to improve the health of minority communities. Bridges to the Future is becoming increasingly important in addressing the problem of underrepresentation of minorities in the sciences. The success of Bridges to the Future depends on the program's ability to set ambitious but reasonable goals and to measure its progress toward achieving these goals. Ultimately, the program will succeed when, as a result of its interventions, students who would have received terminal associate or master's degrees see new opportunities for careers as scientists and their ambitions are supported by the highest possible quality of education and training.


Bridges Planning and Priorities Working Group

Linda Lacey, Ph.D., Chairperson
Associate Dean
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
200 Bynum Hall, CB 4010
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-4010
919-962-6311

Eduardo Bolanos, Ph.D.
Student
University of California, Los Angeles
1501 Delta Street
Rosemead, CA 91770
626-307-8705

Joe Cameron, Ph.D.
Department of Biology
Jackson State University
1400 J.R. Lynch Street, Box 18630
Jackson, MS 39217
601-973-3470

William Galey, Ph.D.
Professor
University of New Mexico School of Medicine
915 Camino de Salud
Albuquerque, NM 87131
505-272-1117

Yolanda George
Deputy Director
American Association for the Advancement of Science
1200 New York Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20005
202-326-6670

Carlos Gutierrez, Ph.D.
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
California State University, Los Angeles
5151 State University Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90032
323-343-2356

Cindy Holland, Ph.D.
Cuyahoga Community College
11000 Pleasant Valley Road
Parma, OH 44130
216-987-5144

Marigold Linton, Ph.D.
Director, American Indian Outreach
University of Kansas
250 Strong Hall
Lawrence, KS 66045-1501
785-864-4904

Michael Mimnaugh, Ph.D.
Department of Chemistry and Physics
Chicago State University
9501 S. King Drive
Chicago, IL 60628
773-995-2180


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