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 Simmons College in Louisville, Kentucky, received a $1 million donation from John Schnatter, the founder of the Papa John’s pizza chain. Schnatter resigned as the head of the company after he had used racial slurs in a conference call.

Spelman College, the historically Black educational institution for women in Atlanta recently received a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to establish the Center of Excellence for Minority Women in STEM. The new center will be affiliated with the college’s Office of Research, Innovation and Collaboration. The Center will offer three main access points for students and faculty, including research support, academic enrichment, and professional development through mentorship opportunities. In addition, the grant will allow the college to introduce an annual Women in STEM Speaker Series, designed to increase knowledge among faculty, staff, and students about emerging areas, including artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data science.

Portland State University in Oregon received a $19.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health for programs to help students from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds become top-level health sciences researchers. The program began five years ago and this new funding will ensure that the program continues for another five years. Students apply for the three-year program in the spring of their freshman year, either at Portland State or one of the partner schools. Participants receive intensive mentoring and instruction on how scientific research is performed, then enter into an 18-month research placement where they work alongside research teams at Portland State or Oregon Health and Science University.

Historically Black Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, received a $400,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to develop an industry-based Computer Engineering Research Lab (CERL) in the electrical engineering department. “This grant will allow underrepresented groups in engineering to acquire skills and learn the technology that is currently used in the engineering and computer industry,” said Fred Lacy, Entergy Corporation endowed professor and chair of the electrical engineering department at Southern University. “Since computers and other technological devices are everywhere in society, it is important to teach students engineering design skills associated with these devices.

The National Science Foundation has awarded Florida A&M University and Bethune-Cookman University nearly $1-million over three years to conduct research on improving water quality. Researchers at both historically Black universities will investigate oyster-associated bacteria, which have the potential to remove nitrogen from estuarine waters. Excessive nitrogen can act as a fertilizer and exacerbate undesirable harmful algal blooms in coastal waters.

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