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 African Poetry Book Fund at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln has received a three-year, $343,750 grant from the Poetry Foundation to study poetry book distribution in Africa. The African Poetry Book Distribution Project, led by Kwame Dawes, George W. Holmes University Professor of English, will improve the understanding of poetry book distribution — examining bookseller networks, international trade, literary venues and programming and more. The fund, established in 2012 by Dawes, promotes and advances the development and publication of the poetic arts through its book series, contests, workshops, and seminars and through its collaborations with publishers, festivals, booking agents, colleges, universities, conferences and all other entities that share an interest in African poetry.

Historically Black North Carolina Central University received a $500,000 grant from Yardi Systems, a Santa Barbara, California-based company that focuses on investment and property management software for real estate companies. The funds will be used to provde student scholarships.

Agnes Scott College, a liberal art educational institution for women in Decatur, Georgia, has been awarded a $750,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The three-year grant will fund research and documentation of the college’s and Decatur’s racial histories, educational programming, and inclusive leadership training. Research will be conducted on the lives of Black, Indigenous, and people of color artisans and workers who participated in the building of the Agnes Scott College campus.

The School of Engineering and Applied Science at Yale University received a $1 million grant from the Bungie Foundation to develop new tools and algorithms to bring inclusivity to the digital screen. One of the physical characteristics that is most revealing of algorithmic bias is the representation of human hair. Yale researchers will investigate methods for high-quality geometric simplification, which will provide greater insight into hair representations that can be readily deployed into game and virtual reality environments.

Spelman College, a liberal arts educational institution for Black women in Atlanta, received $1,064,500 in funding from the Reboot Representation Tech Coalition, which includes a $160,000 donation from the Intel Foundation. The Reboot Representation Tech Coalition is a group of 22 leading tech companies that are committed to doubling the number of Black, Latinx, and Native American women receiving computing degrees by 2025. The coalition works to achieve that goal through targeted, philanthropic investments in the often overlooked programs and institutions that make education and careers in computing more equitable for underrepresented women of color. The grant to Spelman College will include support for the following: (1) increased outreach and recruitment to elevate awareness of opportunities in the field; (2) development of algorithmic thinking; (3) education in the technical and human/societal aspects of computing; (4) opportunities for students to apply knowledge outside of the traditional classroom setting; (5) career awareness/preparation; (6) faculty and peer mentoring, and (7) scholarships.

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