Get a Mentor

Mentor-Connect offers three types of no-cost mentoring to community colleges seeking to improve technician and related STEM education through projects funded by the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education Program (NSF ATE).

1. New-to-ATE (Deadline: Second Friday in November of each year)

helps colleges develop grant proposals for the Small Grants for Institutions New to ATE track. (Colleges are considered new to ATE if they have not received ATE funding in the past seven years.) Or, Faculty members who are new to ATE and have not previously been a PI or Co-PI on an ATE grant proposal for your institution 

2. Second-Chance (Deadline: April 1 of each year)

supports revision of proposals that were declined the first time a proposal was submitted in the following tracts:

  • Small Grants for Institutions New-to-ATE
  • ATE Projects (Colleges seeking mentoring support in this track must have successfully completed a New-to-ATE project.)

3. Moving-Up (Deadline: April 1 of each year)

helps colleges that received funding in the Small Grants for Institutions New to ATE track to develop larger ATE Project proposals. (Such proposals may advance the work of the previous project or pursue new goals for improving STEM education.)

4. Co-Mentoring

Provides double support for prospective grantees seeking ATE grant funding. With co-mentoring, a subject-matter-expert (SME) Mentor from an ATE Center and a grant development expert Mentor from Mentor-Connect assist prospective grantees. An application submitted through Mentor-Connect is required to get started working on any type of ATE grant. 

New-To-ATE Mentoring Application Process

Mentor-Connect invites applicants from community and technical colleges who are interested in preparing a competitive NSF proposal 

Step 1 - Does your Institution Qualify?


  • Interested colleges must have not received a grant in the past 7 years or be new to ATE faculty who have not previously been a PI or Co-PI on an ATE award. 
  • Colleges selected are expected to attend two, in-person workshops (Winter & Summer). The winter workshop is typically held at the end of January or the beginning of February. The summer workshop is typically held in conjunction with the High Impact Technology Exchange Conference. Faculty travel support is provided for both workshops.
  • Colleges are expected to work with an assigned mentor beginning with the winter workshop through October of the same year as the ATE proposal submission date.
  • Colleges must identify a STEM faculty team prior to submission of an application. Teams are required to have two faculty members who teach in STEM disciplines and prepare technicians in advanced technology fields that drive the U.S. economy. Data and outcomes from past cohorts show that a campus-wide commitment to the teams make a huge difference in success. To ensure institution wide commitment to proposal submission success, administrators must be engaged. We encourage the involvement of a grant writer and administrator.
Step 2 - View Our Orientation Webinar (Essential)

This orientation webinar consists of two parts. The first is an overview of the NSF ATE program and the opportunity for small grant funding. The second part of the presentation explains the opportunities for help with grant funding through the Mentor-Connect program. The Orientation webinar is normally provided in September each year.

To access the "Orientation Webinar," other "Upcoming Technical Assistance Webinars," and additional resources, click here.

Step 3 - Additional Information
  • There is no cost to the institution
  • Encourages community colleges that have not had an ATE award in the past 7 years, or faculty who are new to ATE. 
  • Stimulates implementation, adaptation, and innovation in ATE-supported areas with an emphasis on STEM/technician education
  • Encourages utilization of existing resources developed by ATE projects and centers
  • Addresses issues of interest in rural technician education
  • Funds budget maximum of $350K for up to 36 months
  • Seeks proposals via solicitation: NSF ATE Program Solicitation 
Step 4 - Apply Now
  • Complete the online application.
  • Download the affidavit, complete it, and email it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Additional Mentoring Opportunities

In addition to the "New-to-ATE" mentoring opportunity, Mentor-Connect also offers "Second-Chance" and "Moving-Up" mentoring to help advance technician education at no-cost to participating colleges. Read below to see if your institution or 2-year community college may qualify for one of these opportunities.


Has your college submitted an ATE proposal that was declined in the "Small Grants for Institutions New to ATE" track or submitted a proposal for a larger ATE Project that was declined? If so, then this service is available at no cost to the colleges accepted for Second-Chance Mentoring. Colleges wanting this service for a larger ATE Project must have successfully completed a "Small Grants for Institutions New to ATE" project.


Has your college successfully completed a project in the "Small Grants for Institutions New to ATE" track and wishes to advance the work of the previous project or pursue new technician education goals? If so, then Mentor-Connect invites colleges at no-cost to apply for this "Moving-Up" mentoring service.


Are you are collaborating with a discipline-focused ATE Center such as MNT-EC (Micro Nano Technologies), InnovATEBIO (Biotechnology), or NCAT (Autonomous Technologies) in developing a technical program or project?  If so, Mentor-Connect invites two-year college faculty member(s) to apply at no cost for co-mentoring.  This co-mentoring will help you prepare your first or next NSF ATE grant proposal. Co-mentoring allows a prospective grantee to work with the technical and discipline expertise (SME) within an ATE Center and also receive grant writing expertise from Mentor-Connect in order to develop a competitive NSF grant proposal.


  • Marcia Schenck

    Marcia Schenck

    Featured are Swofford Career Center, high school team winners of the Cyber Patriot team competition. Sponsored by the NSF ATE in February 2019.

    Computer and Engineering Technologies Department Chair at Spartanburg Community College (SCC) said the Business and Industry Leadership Team (BILT) process that her Mentor-Connect Mentor Ann Beheler advised her to use was essential for obtaining industry buy-in for the program she envisioned and that employers then shaped with her. "I think that it is a key ingredient to get your industry support. I had documentation of what they [employers] said in the grant [application]. I think that makes a difference." Beheler is principal investigator of the National Convergence Technology Center

    Image courtesy of SCC

  • Vincent A. DiNoto Jr., Director of GeoTech Center

    Vincent A. DiNoto Jr., Director of GeoTech Center

    Photo caption: Process Technology student operating a distillation table top trainer.

    Director and principal investigator of the National Geospatial Center of Excellence at Jefferson Community and Technical College in Kentucky and a longstanding Mentor-Connect Mentor told Community College of Beaver County (CCBC)’s mentee team (PI Hugh Gallagher and his colleagues) about several ways to involve industry while they wrote their ATE grant proposal. According to Gallagher, "More than 40 companies are now partners in CCBC’s Systemic Change Through Process Technology program. The college has a new $3 million facility and received $1 million from a private foundation to purchase more process technology equipment" because of the information received during his New-to-ATE mentorship. Additionally, CCBC has received a second ATE grant for $539,987 to adapt the traditional format of the process technology program into a Flexible Entry/Flexible Exit Curriculum.

    Image courtesy of CCBC

  • Jay Olsen, Snow College Director of Agriculture Programs

    Jay Olsen, Snow College Director of Agriculture Programs

    Precision Agriculture Students, Drones and Irrigation all come together at Snow College.

    Director of Agriculture programs at Snow College said questions from Osa Brand, the college’s Mentor-Connect mentor in 2015, helped him and Michael P. Medley, the dean of Business and Applied Technologies, clarify their thinking about the viability of their Ag technology program for funding and the curriculum within the program. The Agriculture Systems program they launched in 2017 with a National Science Foundation (NSF) Advanced Technological Education grant (#1601397) blends agriculture mechanics, entrepreneurship, hydrology, and advanced technologies such as GPS-valved and controlled, pivot irrigation systems and unmanned aerial vehicles. Without Brand’s "different perspective," Olsen and Medley would have never considered the viability of having a successful NSF-ATE application to create a precision agriculture program to meet the needs of farm families in the six rural Utah counties the college serves.

    Image courtesy of Snow College

  • John C. Frala

    John C. Frala

    Frala, far right is with some of the alternative fuel cell technologies program's students and staff members. Degree program was made possible by the ATE grant.

    Automotive Technology Instructor has used what he learned as a Mentor-Connect mentee to accelerate the automotive technology program at Rio Hondo College and his career. He said, "If it wasn’t for the group at Mentor-Connect I probably would not be where I am right now. That group has given me so much support. I just can't express to people enough how this group can change your whole program, and it's a change for the better." Since Frala, Rio Hondo Dean Mike Slavich, and Automotive Technology Chairman Steve Tomory participated in Mentor-Connect, the college in Whittier, CA, has received its first Advanced Technological Education (ATE) grant from the National Science Foundation to create an Associate of Science Degree in Alternative Fuels and Advanced Transportation Technology; been selected as the first California community college to offer a Bachelor of Science Degree in Automotive Technology; become a partner on a second ATE project grant with another Mentor-Connect college; and launched Tesla’s second START service technician certificate program.

    Image courtesy of Rio Hondo College