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.

Historically Black Delaware State University has been awarded a $498,372 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support a project that will focus on the capabilities of lasers in killing viruses. The grant comes from the NSF’s HBCU-UP Program, which aims to assist HBCUs in strengthening their STEM education and research programs. The project, “Investigation of Enhancer Free Photo-generated Singlet Oxygen,” could provide the groundwork for a chemical-free means of sanitizing foods. It could also help develop a low-cost way of removing viruses and pathogens from food, blood, and other pharmaceutical and biomedical products.

The National Science Foundation has given a $1 million grant to historically Black North Carolina A&T State University to study the climate and health impacts of biomass smoke, combustion emissions, and sub-Saharan African dust mixed with biomass smoke. It is estimated that Africa produces more than half of the world’s biomass burning smoke from biomass fuels and animal dung. The researchers hope to gain a better understanding of the health impacts of biomass burning pollution and how they can improve these conditions in the developing world. Additionally, “Because of this grant’s emphasis on research excellence at HBCUs,” stated co-principal investigator Dr. Solomon Bililign, “this project will directly increase the number of minority students trained in atmospheric science both in field and laboratory research.”

The Office of Career Services at the historically Black University of Arkansas Pine Bluff (UAPB) has been awarded a $200,000 grant from the Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation to fund a new paid internship program. The university partnered with local businesses to develop new paid internship opportunities and to convert previously unpaid internships into paid opportunities for students. Participating students will work 20 hours per week in positions relating to their academic fields and receive six hours of academic credit for the experience. “This is a double win for university students and local businesses,” said UAPB Chancellor Laurence B. Alexander. “Students are getting paid while obtaining valuable work experience and the local employers are getting a temporary workforce funded through a grant to the university.”

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has awarded a $486,000 grant to Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond to fund the VCU Guided Research Experiences & Applied Training (VCU GREAT) program. The newly established program aims to provide students from underrepresented backgrounds with the opportunity to gain research skills, work in campus research labs, and receive mentorship from VCU faculty. As a part of the new program 10 students each summer will participate in an eight-week research experience that will provide them with foundational skills and training. “We know there is a lack of diversity among scientists engaged in biomedical and behavioral research,” said VCU professor Dr. Danielle M. Dick. “This grant focuses on introducing students from a diversity of backgrounds to the research process, with the long-term goal of creating a more diverse scientific workforce.”

Historically Black Spelman College in Atlanta has received two grants and launched a mini-grant program to fund initiatives that support the college’s efforts to create a more inclusive environment and to educate, prevent, and respond to sexual violence on campus. The first grant totals $589,000 and was awarded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to establish an Institute for the Study of Gender and Sexuality. The new institute aims to educate faculty and students on gender and sexuality studies and incorporate those subjects across all disciplines. The second grant totals $297,984 and was awarded by the United States Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women to help combat sexual misconduct on campus by implementing coordinated responses to campus incidents through partnerships with off-campus victim services and local law enforcement agencies. The mini-grant program, All of Us, will be administered by the college’s Title IX & Compliance Office and will provide students, faculty, and staff to present proposals on ways to improve the safety on campus and get funding to carry out their ideas. The college will allocate $25,000 annually to fund the program.

The National Science Foundation has provided a three-year, $4 million grant to fund a collaborative pilot program in engineering education called “Engineering for US All- E4USA: A National Pilot High School Engineering Course and Database.” The program will be led by the University of Maryland in partnership with Arizona State University, Virginia Tech, and historically Black Morgan State University. E4USA will create a standardized, nationally recognized high school engineering course through which pre-college students can earn transferable course credits at the college level. The first year of the grant will be dedicated to developing high school engineering curriculum and professional development for high school teachers. The implementation of the program will take place in year two and researchers will continue to revise and improve upon the curriculum based on feedback from teachers. All high school teachers involved in the project will engage in collaboration, learn from each other, and receive support by sharing teaching materials and challenges. More than 1,000 students, at 40 high schools, will complete the program during the grant’s three-year span, with an additional 30 schools participating through indirect funding.

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