Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in STEM Higher Education

Program Goal

To create diverse, equitable, and inclusive pathways to and through STEM graduate education and the professoriate.


Diversity, equity, and inclusion are the central tenets of our program. As articulated in Sloan’s Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion statement, upholding these tenets is a matter of fundamental justice and our path to ensuring that the best science is done.

Diversity represents the presence of demographic differences in academic and research settings. We place emphasis on gender and racial/ethnic diversity, and are especially interested in their intersections with one another and with other underrepresented identities.

Equity and equity-mindedness is found in institutions and individuals who understand that while talent is evenly distributed, opportunity is not, and thus seek to transform organizational practices, policies, and cultures in order to provide all individuals with the tools, resources, and supports needed to succeed at the highest levels.

Inclusion ensures that everyone, regardless of their backgrounds or held identities, feel belonging in a given environment, whether that be a classroom, laboratory, academic department, or entire discipline.

Six equally important strategic priorities guide our grantmaking. In particular, we seek to:

  1. Invest in widening pathways to STEM graduate education. The pathway to STEM graduate education is broken for far too many students given systemic barriers faced by individuals and institutions. Among other investments, we seek to support pathways from Minority Serving Institutions—and other colleges and universities with a demonstrated record of graduating Black, Indigenous, and Latina/o students in STEM—and our nation’s master’s and doctoral STEM programs.
  2. Empower universities to transform graduate education. Increasing demographic diversity is crucial but not enough. Institutions and their STEM departments must also pursue new and creative ways of ensuring inclusive environments and equitable outcomes for their students. Through the Foundation’s University Centers for Exemplary Mentoring and Sloan Indigenous Graduate Partnership, we seek to empower STEM departmental leadership, faculty, and staff in doing just that.
  3. Support innovative efforts to increase the number of women and Black, Indigenous, and Latina/o individuals in the STEM professoriate. Widening the pathway to and through graduate education requires a diverse faculty body, as does the ability of the STEM enterprise to truly innovate. We are interested in investing in efforts by institutions and organizations that seek to change not only the numbers, but also the culture and climate of STEM departments and disciplines such that women and Black, Indigenous, and Latina/o individuals are attracted to the professoriate and supported once there.
  4. Pursue systemic change. For too long, systemic change efforts have gone underinvested in and understudied, resulting in stagnant progress on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the STEM disciplines. It’s not enough to promote individual advancement without also seeking to improve the capacity of STEM environments to attend to diversity, equity, and inclusion in their policies and practices, and in the attitudes and behaviors of their community members. We seek to empower and equip institutions seeking this kind of change and to support research on how change happens.
  5. Examine our own practices. Any grantmaking process also necessitates looking inward at one’s own practices. We commit to regularly revisiting and evaluating how we do things in order to ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion at every stage of the grantmaking process – from the proposals we solicit to the reviewers we appoint.
  6. Coordinate and collaborate with others. We recognize that any one organization has a finite amount of dollars and finite amount of influence. We seek to engage private foundations, federal agencies, and corporate funders in enabling systemic change in STEM higher education and the field at large. This includes internal collaboration at Sloan, working alongside and in support of our colleagues in advancing their own DEI agendas.

In addition, the program makes a number of grants supporting institutions and organizations that promote the education and professional advancement of women and Black, Indigenous and Latina/o students and faculty in STEM disciplines.


While we cannot accommodate all requests for phone, Zoom, or in-person visits, we welcome ideas and short project descriptions via dei@sloan.org

For priority review, interested grantseekers should send a two-page letter of inquiry to dei@sloan.org.

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