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.

Florida A&M University, the historically Black educational institution in Tallahassee, announced a $1.2 million donation from Frank and Laura Baker to help students with financial challenges graduate in four years. The gift will establish the Frank and Laura Baker Graduation Fund, which will provide funding for students who are qualified to graduate in four years but have an outstanding account balance to the university. Frank Baker is a co-founder and managing partner of Siris, a leading private equity firm with more than $7 billion in assets under management.

St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, received a $500,000 gift from an anonympus donor to establish the Ken Okoth Black American Music Project. The project will support exploration of Black music history and origins, musical genres such as blues, jazz, and gospel, and the complexity and influence of Black American music traditions on the world through visual displays, lectures and talks, seminars, and live performances. Okoth, a native of Kenya and an elected member of the Kenyan Parliament, was a 2001 graduate of St. Lawrence University. He died in 2019 after a battle with cancer.

Historically Black Howard University in Washington, D.C., announced a $2 million grant from The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation. The funds will support the Graduation Retention Access to Continued Excellence program for students facing financial barriers. The grant will specifically support students from the Los Angeles metropolitan area. Preference will be given to students majoring in STEM disciplines.

Fayetteville State University, the historically Black educational institution in North Carolina, received a $1.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. The grant will be used to establish the Undergraduate Research Training Initiative for Student Enhancement (U-RISE) program for students majoring in biology, chemistry, forensic science, mathematics, and computer science. The program, aimed at helping undergraduates transition into biomedical, research-focused Ph.D. programs, will provide trainees a series of mentoring, research training, and professional development activities beginning the sophomore year of college through the senior year. Trainees will also be provided a monthly stipend, tuition, health insurance, and support for travel to scientific conferences. The grant is under the direction of James E. Raynor Jr., an associate professor at the university who holds a Ph.D. in cellular and molecular biology from Clark Atlanta University.

The National Endowment for the Humanities, in partnership with the Social Science Research Council,  recently awarded a $94,817 grant to the department of history at Grambling State University to research and record the history of the African American experience in northern Louisiana. Researchers will collaborate with undergraduate students and scholars from across the U.S. on a digital oral history project to preserve voices from historically disadvantaged populations that COVID-19 has disproportionately affected.

The Kennedy School at Harvard University has received a $5 million gift from the James M. and Cathleen D. Stone Foundation to establish the James M. and Cathleen D. Stone Program in Wealth Distribution, Inequality, and Social Policy at the School’s Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy. The program will unite faculty, students, and researchers from across Harvard University and beyond to better understand and address the causes and consequences of wealth inequalities.

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