With funding from the National Science Foundation's Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S-STEM) program, this project will recruit, select, and award 25 scholarships to academically talented low-income undergraduate students in the Department of Natural Science (DNS) at Virginia Union University (VUU). Beyond receiving scholarship support the students will participate in a variety of curricular and co-curricular activities that have proven effective at increasing student retention and graduation rates. The project aims to produce VUU graduates with a greater sense of the contributions they can make to improve life in their communities and the world through the application of STEM research. Since VUU is a Historically Black College or University (HBCU), the success of the project will likely also increase the level of diversity in the scientific community and enhance the connection between diverse communities and the use of science as a tool to solve community issues.<br/><br/>The project will adapt evidence-based practices for STEM retention to demonstrate how STEM education and research can align with the interests, goals, and values of the scholars. Such practices include student involvement in undergraduate research, social integration through promotion and management of cohort experiences, and peer tutoring. A key activity will involve engaging scholars at VUU in research projects that simultaneously teach research techniques, make a scientific contribution, and address a social or community concern that is valued by the student. Helping prepare students to exhibit a sense of ownership and develop an awareness of the importance of STEM as a tool, applicable to issues of their concern, will enrich their academic experience. Moreover, the project will expand upon the understanding of how academic programs at small liberal arts institutions can help underrepresented low-income STEM students become successful graduates. In particular, the faculty team leading the project will collect qualitative data (e.g. student interviews) and quantitative data (e.g. grade-point averages, time-to-completion for key courses, self-efficacy measures, persistence measures, etc.) regarding the performance of the scholars. Such data will help the principal investigators (PIs) at VUU generate and disseminate knowledge concerning the impact of project activities. The data gathered from this project will inform recommendations for institutionalization and expansion of project activities at the PIs' institution. In addition, project findings will have implications for education and preparation of talented underrepresented undergraduate STEM students at other small liberal arts institutions.