A New $150 Million Program to Boost Graduate Education for Underrepresented Students

Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and the Norman and Ruth Rales Foundation recently announced a transformative new initiative to help address the Missing Millions — individuals whose personal circumstances have presented a significant obstacle to careers in the science, technology, engineering, and math fields (STEM).

The CMU Rales Fellows Program aims to increase access to STEM graduate education and help cultivate a new generation of STEM leaders. The program will eliminate cost as a barrier to select master’s degree and Ph.D. programs for students from under-resourced and underrepresented backgrounds by providing full tuition and a stipend. The program also will support students through a distinctive, holistic ecosystem of developmental and networking opportunities that will benefit Fellows both during their time at CMU and as they advance in their careers.

The Rales Foundation gift will provide an endowment of $110 million to support the program, and the university has committed a further $30 million in endowed funds. The two organizations also are jointly establishing a $10 million fund to support the program’s developmental years. The first cohort of students will enroll in the fall of 2024. The CMU Rales Fellows Program is expected each year to underwrite 86 graduate students in STEM fields in perpetuity, educating thousands of research and industry leaders in the coming decades.

“Addressing the challenges of our modern world will require the concerted efforts of a highly talented pool of STEM trailblazers who can bring a diversity of ideas and experiences to engender solutions,” said Farnam Jahanian, president of Carnegie Mellon University. “At the heart of the CMU Rales Fellows Program is a commitment to remove existing barriers and empower this next generation of domestic talent so they can apply their skills and ingenuity to realize new scientific and technological breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity.

The Norman and Ruth Rales Foundation was established in 1986 by Norman and Ruth Rales, two children of immigrants who grew up in modest circumstances. Norman Rales was the founder of Mid-South Building Supply Company. The Rales’ goal in creating the foundation was to continue their shared, lifelong desire to help people in need, as they had once been helped, and create opportunities through which others might thrive.

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