Higher Education Grants or Gifts of Interest to African Americans

Here is this week’s news of grants or gifts to historically Black colleges and universities or for programs of particular interest to African Americans in higher education.

The City University of New York has received a five-year, $3.97 million grant from the National Science Foundation to support the New York City Louis Stocks Alliance Minority Participation program which aims to increase the number of underrepresented minority students graduating with degrees in STEM fields. The program provides training and academic support to the university’s STEM majors and prepares students for graduate school and careers in STEM fields. Additionally, the grant will support minority student recruitment into STEM programs and encourage faculty collaboration across CUNY institutions. Lehman College President Jose Luis Cruz believes that “with this new grant, even more underserved minority students will have the opportunity to participate and work towards STEM careers that will enrich their lives and also transform the lives of the people they will be serving.”

The Challenge Initiative led by the Institute on Population and Reproductive Health at Johns Hopkins University has been awarded a $20.5 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The global program addresses the reproductive health needs of people living in poor urban communities and these new funds will allow the program to focus more on adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health issues. The initiative operates in 52 cities across East Africa, West Africa, Nigeria, and India. Jose Rimon, the institute’s director and a senior scientist at the university’s Bloomberg School of Public Health stated, “Globally, many adolescents don’t have access to the sexual and reproductive health information they need to make informed choices and this can keep communities trapped in a cycle of poverty. We are so grateful that the Gates Foundation has made it possible for The Challenge Initiative to use our ‘business unusual’ approach to really make a difference in the lives of youth.”

Historically Black Jackson State University and an alliance of Mississippi higher education institutions have received a $4 million grant from the National Science Foundation to support the Louis Stokes Mississippi Alliance for Minority Participation Pathways Alliance which aims to train minorities for careers in STEM fields. Program manager Martha Tchounwou stated that “the new funding provides us with an excellent opportunity to continue to recruit, train, retain and graduate underrepresented minority students and make a significant impact on workforce development in Mississippi and throughout the U.S.” The other participating institutions are Alcorn State University, Delta State University, Hinds Community College, Mississippi State University, Mississippi Valley State University, Tougaloo College, the University of Mississippi, and the University of Southern Mississippi.

The Early Research Scholars Program at the Jacobs School of Engineering at the University of California, San Diego has received a $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation. The program is designed to increase the retention of underrepresented groups studying computer science. The grant will fund the extension of this program to at least seven universities starting with University of California, Santa Barbara, Stanford University, and the University of Illinois at Chicago in the next two years. It will also fund research about the long-term outcomes of students who participate in the program. Founder of the program and computer science professor Christine Alvarado thinks that this grant will have a large impact on minority computer science students. She believes that “early research can build students’ confidence and help them develop their identities as computer scientists.”

The College of Veterinary Medicine at Purdue University has received a $3.18 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration to launch Vet Up! The National Health Careers Opportunity Program Academy for Veterinary Medicine. This new program aims to increase the number of minorities among veterinary professionals and to address the need for more veterinarians serving rural areas. The academy will help high school students prepare for college, prepare undergraduate students to apply to veterinary medical degree programs, and will support veterinary medical students throughout their degree program.

The Center for African Studies at Howard University has received a four-year $2,054,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to support students in world languages and international studies. The grant establishes the university as the only HBCU designated by the U.S. Department of Education as a comprehensive National Resource Center for African Studies. The funds will allow the center to provide fellowships to graduate and undergraduate students across all disciplines to take African language training and integrate African-related coursework into their studies. Additionally, the grant will allow the African language of Somali to be added to the wide selection of language courses offered in the university’s department of world languages and cultures. The grant will also provide funding to support the center’s outreach efforts to local K-12 and postsecondary institutions on African-related pedagogy.

Bronx Community College in New Yorkhas received a $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to fund scholarships for underrepresented students in STEM fields. The grant will fund a collaboration between Bronx Community College and Lehman College. Low-income students will be provided with paid research opportunities, internships, and faculty mentoring as they earn their associate’s degrees from Bronx Community College. From there, they can transfer to Lehman College to work with new mentors while earning bachelor’s degrees in STEM fields. The grant is one of the largest grants ever awarded to a community college.

A group of researchers from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, has been awarded a $1.75 million grant from the National Science Foundation to improve undergraduate education, increase retention, and increase the number of women and minorities in STEM. The project will implement “active learning” into the STEM disciplines at George Mason. This teaching style involves group problem-solving, classroom debates, and peer reviews of writing and has been proven to improve learning for all groups, especially women and minorities. “If women and minorities are not represented in STEM, their perspectives are not reflected,” Dr. Jill Nelson, the grant’s lead researcher said. “STEM fields are better able to advance — and hence improve quality of life — when the STEM workforce is diverse and inclusive.”

The University of Massachusetts at Amherst has received a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation to support faculty of color in STEM disciplines. The project will conduct research and create programming that aims to encourage collaboration, mentoring, inclusive communities, and shared-decision making in each of the STEM departments.

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