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 Corporation for Public Broadcasters has awarded historically Black Prairie View A&M University’s radio station KPVU 91.3 FM a $500,000 grant to introduce programming focused on R&B music and hip-hop. Funds from the grant will be used to hire new staff, conduct market research, and refine local variations on the format. Additionally, the station will be able to conduct community engagement and special event activities in the Prairie View and greater Houston communities. The general manager of KPVU 91.3 FM stated, “What is central to the opportunity is the pursuit of attracting and engaging a younger audience, “millennials” (Generation X and Y), as well as the opportunity to attract a more diverse audience.”
Louisiana State University has received a $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to fund the university’s initiatives to encourage and support underrepresented minorities in STEM disciplines. The funding comes from the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Regional Centers for Excellence, which aims to increase diversity among the United States STEM workforce. The university’s Office of Strategic Initiatives will use the award to launch the Louis Stokes Center for Promotion of Academic Careers through Motivational Opportunities to Develop Emerging Leaders in STEM. The new center will create mentoring opportunities, increase retention and graduation rates among minorities, and develop models for increasing and supporting diversity in higher education. Additionally, LSU will conduct international research and provide professional development for minority STEM students and junior faculty. LSU President F. King Alexander stated, “We all benefit when everyone can access quality educational opportunities and career advancement. LSU is proud to serve as a nationally recognized leader in mentoring underrepresented minorities into STEM fields and careers. We appreciate the support from NSF of our ongoing initiatives and investments in high-quality education and outcomes.”
Kansas State University has received a five-year, $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation to support the Kansas Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation program, which aims to increase diversity in STEM. Other member institutions participating in the program are Dodge City Community College, Donnelly College, Garden City Community College, Seward County Community College/Area Technical School, Barton County Community College, and Wichita State University. The goal of the program is to double the number of underrepresented minorities graduating with bachelor’s degrees in STEM from Kansas State and Wichita State universities over the next five years. The program will offer student enhancement initiatives such as research and networking opportunities, tutoring internships, and summer programs. Additionally, the program will focus on enhanced recruiting and improved student tracking.
Spelman College, the historically Black educational institution for women in Atlanta, has received a $5.4 million grant from the Walton Family Foundation to establish the Atlanta University Center Collective for the Study of Art History and Curatorial Studies. The goal of the grant is to increase diversity among art museum leadership so it is more representative of the country’s population. The new initiative will result in the creation of an art history major and curatorial studies minor at the Atlanta University Center. Additionally, the grant will fund scholarships for art history and curatorial studies students, create paid internship opportunities at major museums, hire new faculty, create a lecture-series in the field of art history, and start an intensive summer program for high school students interested in museum careers.
The University of Massachusetts at Amherst has been awarded the ADVANCE Institutional Transformation grant to support the development of an innovative professional advancement model for underrepresented faculty in STEM fields. The $3 million grant will support an interdisciplinary team from four UMass Amherst colleges who will focus on using collaboration as a tool for fostering equity for women and male faculty of color in science and engineering fields. The project will conduct research and create programming based on three essential elements: encouraging research collaboration, creating an inclusive community through mentoring, and promoting shared decision-making and governance at the department level.
An alliance between Spelman College, Agnes Scott College, Morehouse College andthe Georgia Institute of Technology has received a $200,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to develop undergraduate data-science-focused units. The collaborative project aims to train a diverse workforce for the increasingly data-driven future. The project will also help faculty teach data science and develop related courses. “The Data-Driven Discovery and Alliance offers an opportunity for our faculty and students to engage as learners, innovators and disseminators in the data science ecosystem,” said principal investigator and Spelman professor Dr. Brandeis Marshall. “It has the potential to provide us with critical support structures, namely access to community, curricula content and resources, and increases our ability to sustain a robust data science environment.”
The University of California, Merced has received a four-year, $573,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to fund the Pathways Diverse Faculty project which aims to diversify the university’s community of graduate students and faculty, beginning with the humanities and humanistic social sciences. Funds from the grant will support six humanities doctoral students and one peer mentor in the university’s Competitive Edge Summer Bridge program for the next four years. The grant will also fund five new humanities faculty members per year to attend a two-week orientation on teaching and diversity. The project will also develop grant writing workshops for junior faculty and provide them with senior faculty mentors. It will fund the hiring of a consultant who will evaluate diversity contributions of minority junior faculty, including how they mentor students. “We are thrilled to receive this prestigious award that will enhance the success of our faculty and students while it contributes to the university’s commitment to diversity,” vice provost and Graduate Division Dean Marjorie Zatz said. “With Mellon’s help, we are beginning this initiative with the humanities and humanistic social sciences, but our hope is to expand it to the entire campus soon.”
A consortium of nine University of California and 15 California State University campuses has collectively been awarded a five-year, $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to increase diversity in physics and astronomy through the Cal-Bridge program. The program creates a pathway for students from multiple CSU and community college campuses to Ph.D. programs in physics and astronomy at UC campuses. “This program knits together the three branches of the California higher education system by identifying promising physics and astronomy students within the broadly diverse CSU and community college systems and connecting them to a strong mentoring and professional development network,” said Brian Schumm, professor of physics at the Univerity of California, Santa Cruz and leader of the Northern California Cal-Bridge program. Currently, only 4 percent of physics and astronomy Ph.D. students (an average of about 80 people per year) are from underrepresented minority backgrounds. The new grant will allow the program to expand from about 12 scholars to as many as 50 per year.
Tuskegee University, the University of Alabama, and Oakland University in Michigan have received a $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation to fund their collaborative program called “Black Girls from Alabama for Computing.” The program prepares African-American girls from Alabama high schools to take the new Advanced Placement course in computer science. Department of mathematics professor Dr. Mohammed Qazi is Tuskegee’s principal investigator. “The computer science workforce is not diverse enough — it is essentially a very heavily male-dominated area, and very few minorities are present in this field,” he noted. “When you look at the African-American sector for women in computing, they only represent 1 percent of the total computing workforce, which is unacceptable.” Around 120 young African-American women will participate in the program over the course of the three-year grant. Participants will be immersed in computer science activities that promote collaborative learning and also learn about computer science career options.
Weill Cornell Medicine in New York Cityhas been awarded a $2.7 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration to establish a Diversity Center of Excellence dedicated to increasing the number of minority physicians in academic medicine. The new center will focus on nurturing minority talent at all career levels by expanding their middle school, high school, and undergraduate pipeline programs with a goal of doubling the number of minority medical school applicants within three years. Additionally, the center will facilitate mentoring opportunities for pre-medical students, medical students, residents, and faculty members. The funding will also support an annual premedical conference that will establish mentoring programs, build community partnerships, create a Scholars in Health Equity program, and offer training in health equity research. “Our population is becoming more diverse, but our health care professional population hasn’t kept up,” said Dr. Susana Morales, associate professor of clinical medicine and co-principal investigator of the grant. “Here at Weill Cornell Medicine, we are committed to increasing diversity. This grant is exciting not only because there’s potential to do a lot of good, it also allows us to be a part of the institution’s larger diversity efforts.”