ARMAS in Education Center

Achieving in Research, Math, and Science

Spotlight / Kellogg Foundation

​HU Receives $500,000 Grant from Kellogg Foundation


Las Vegas, N.M. – The W.K. Kellogg Foundation awarded New Mexico Highlands University a $500,000 grant to provide intensive support services to incoming freshmen aimed at preparing them to succeed in the science disciplines.

The two-year grant was awarded to the university’s Achieving in Research, Math and Science, ARMAS, Program. The grant focuses on freshmen who declare a science major but aren’t prepared for college-level coursework, especially in math and science.

“These students are interested in studying science but tend to struggle and fall through the cracks,” said Edward Martinez, natural resources professor and ARMAS director. “This grant will help us target these students early for academic intervention.”

The Kellogg Foundation grant award is the first ARMAS partnership with the private sector.

“We were impressed with the way ARMAS tracks student data and can demonstrate success,” said Arelis Diaz, education and learning program officer for the Kellogg Foundation. “We were also impressed with the way ARMAS provides a culturally sensitive environment in providing its services.

“We like the fact that Highlands welcomes all students, including parents. This fits well into the Kellogg Foundation’s model to lift families out of poverty through obtaining education that helps them obtain high-paying jobs,” Diaz said. 

Highlands University established its ARMAS Center in 2009 through a U.S. Department of Education grant. The center provides comprehensive support services to students in the disciplines of science, technology, engineering and math – collectively known as STEM ­– with the goal of increasing graduation rates.

According to data from the university’s Office of Institutional Research, science students who access ARMAS services are three times more likely to stay in school and graduate than students who don’t.

Current ARMAS services cover a wide range, from supplemental instruction for science and math gateway courses to a center that provides supportive staff and resources like textbooks and computers.

“This grant allows ARMAS to implement some of the best practices in increasing student success in the STEM disciplines,” said Elizabeth Ratzlaff, ARMAS coordinator. “Examples include more experiential

learning, faculty development that focuses on student-centered learning, and getting students into science courses early in their college education rather than delaying enrollment until remediation work is


Some of the initiatives the Kellogg Foundation grant will fund include:

A new interdisciplinary fundamentals of science course team taught by three different STEM professors each semester. This fall, the professors include Sara Brown, forestry, Gil Gallegos, computer science, and Jesus Rivas, biology. 

Faculty development for science professors, including workshops focused on learner-centered college education presented by On Course Professional Development.  

Additional paid internships with community partners such as the Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge and the Hermit’s Peak Watershed Alliance.

Additional paid research opportunities with Highlands University science faculty.

Funding for students to present their research at science conferences.

Funding to add a part-time internship coordinator to the ARMAS staff.

Funding to increase the hours of the ARMAS Center.

“Everyone at the ARMAS Center is thrilled to collaborate with the Kellogg Foundation,” Ratzlaff said. “We’re very grateful for the opportunity to expand our services for our students.”

This is the second grant awarded to ARMAS this year. In March, the National Science Foundation awarded a $414,000 grant to the program, with $360,000 earmarked for scholarships for science students.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life. The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Mich. and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes.


© 2012 ARMAS in Education Center