Science Bound

Iowa State University
Academic Level
Issue Area
Support Services
Key Personnel
Program Focus


Formally launched in 1990, Science Bound (SB) was replicated at Purdue University in 2001, and expanded to two rural Iowa communities in 2005 and 2007. SB is a nine-year, informal STEM development program preparing pre-college URMs to earn bachelor’s degrees and pursue careers in technical disciplines. SB identifies middle school students with a propensity for math/science and supports them through their earning of a bachelor’s degree in STEM. SB engages high school seniors/parents in college enrollment workshops. After high school, SB offers four-year tuition scholarships for students; dedicated bilingual and bicultural staff trained in STEM student development; a college onboarding retreat focused on academic support and peer mentoring; a weekly seminar connecting first-year students to university resources, developing college study skills, and acclimating them to a predominantly white institution; dedicated study space, free printing, and tutoring. Sophomore/senior seminars develop students’ knowledge and career planning strategies to secure research experiences, internships, and employment. SB is intentionally inclusive in making sure Latino students’ cultural assets are incorporated, and resources are provided regarding immigration status. SB uses inclusive language when interacting with Latino students/families (i.e. parent letters in Spanish and English, and interpreters for Spanish-speaking families). SB partners with community and university professional Latino organizations (such as Al Exito, SHPE, and MAES) and involves Latino STEM role models to participate in SB events.

Program Description

The mission of Science Bound is to create and operationalize pathways for racially and ethnically diverse youth to prepare for and excel in technical fields.

The goals are to:

  1. develop strong and positive academically-influential relationships with students and families,
  2. develop and maintain dynamic learning environments where racially and ethnically diverse youth pursuing and excelling in STEM (and academics in general) is normal, expected, supported, nurtured, promoted, and encouraged among all stakeholders,
  3. provide students with personally engaging experiences with STEM content,
  4. raise teachers’ expectations of SB students’ academic abilities and career aspirations,
  5. increase SB families’ knowledge of the college-going process and their social capital related to college access,
  6. and equip students with the academic knowledge and skills to navigate higher education.


More than 2,000 students have benefitted from SB, and 504 students have earned four-year STEM tuition scholarships. Once selected for SB participation, students must engage in SB and meet academic standards each semester. A student is released from SB if the requirements are not met.

Of those who complete the pre-college program:

  • 96% enrolled in post-secondary education immediately after high school (80% in four-year colleges).
  • The 2015-2016 SB retention rate was 94% 100% of the class of 2017 is college-bound immediately after high school and 160 students (90%) of the class of 2016 enrolled directly to ISU in fall 2016, 58% are Hispanic/Latino.

Since 2000:

  • 138 SB students have graduated from ISU (61% Latino) 72% of the graduates were in STEM fields.
  • The six-year graduation rate for SB Latino students was 73% Higher than the university overall graduation rate of 64% and 61% for the 2005, 2006 entering classes, respectively (most recent data available)

Latino SB graduates hold positions at companies/corporations, including Baker Group, John Deere, DuPont Pioneer, Kemin Industries, Quality Manufacturing, and the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory.