The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is pleased to announce the recipients of 20 grants totaling nearly $5 million aimed at empowering innovative, systemic change-focused partnerships between Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) and other educational institutions to build, expand, or enhance effective, equitable pathways into STEM graduate study by Black, Indigenous, and Latina/o students. Together, these grants represent the Foundation’s largest, targeted investment in MSIs to date, with plans to make additional grants in 2022.
“This is an exciting new chapter in the Sloan Foundation’s long history of supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the sciences and engineering,” said Sloan President Adam F. Falk. “We're proud to be investing in new and existing partnerships between MSIs and graduate programs across the country in an effort to strengthen graduate pathways that have too often shut out talented Black, Indigenous, and Latina/o students.”
MSIs are a federally defined category of higher education institutions either explicitly founded with a mission of educating students from historically marginalized groups or whose enrollment features a significant population of such students. Examples of the seven types of MSIs include Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs). Taken together, MSIs enroll and graduate great proportions of Black, Indigenous, and Latina/o students. For example, despite making up only 3% of educational institutions nationwide, HBCUs produce nearly 20% of all Black bachelor’s degree holders. A Sloan-supported 2019 consensus report by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) identified MSIs as an untapped and underutilized resource for addressing issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM higher education.
“There is no solution to the problem of underrepresentation in STEM that doesn’t involve MSIs as a central player—not one,” said Dr. Lorelle Espinosa, program director at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and co-chair of the NASEM committee that authored the report. “MSIs are where the students are, where the expertise is, and where so much of the hard work of closing equity gaps in higher education is being done. The Sloan Foundation’s investment is a recognition of the vital resource MSIs represent and of the exciting possibilities that open up when you commit to engaging them as long-term partners. Strengthening these pathways could go a long way to achieving the type of systemic change the Foundation is so interested in.”
Though MSIs account for a large fraction of the undergraduate STEM degrees granted to Black, Indigenous, and Latina/o students, many remain under-resourced and under-invested in, contributing to disparities in STEM infrastructure, graduate education offerings, and research opportunities for their students and faculty, as compared to their predominately white institutional (PWI) counterparts. The 20 grants announced today seek to address that disparity through supporting partnerships between MSIs and graduate schools at other institutions that facilitate access for MSI undergraduates into graduate study through both direct (i.e., guaranteed admissions or dual-enrollment opportunities) and indirect (i.e., research opportunities and application support) means.
The grantees represent a diverse variety of MSIs across all regions of the U.S. and in the sovereign Tribal Nations. They include Spelman College and Tuskegee University (both Historically Black Colleges), Diné College (a Tribal College operated by the Navajo Nation), and the University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley (a Hispanic Serving Institution), to name a few.
Over 125 letters of inquiry were submitted in response to the Call announced in 2020, an indicator of the interest at MSIs and graduate programs in building or scaling such partnerships. “One thing that came out clearly from our RFP is how much innovative, exciting work is being done at MSIs across the country,” said Espinosa. “There are so many great opportunities for funders who care about diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM and who are looking for ways to have long-term impact.”
One such funder is Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, which has committed nearly $1.5 million to either augment projects being funded by Sloan or support additional projects identified through the Call, an exciting new model that demonstrates the significant opportunity for funder collaboration and private sector engagement. “We are committed to dismantling systemic barriers to careers in science and medicine so that the workforce better reflects the diversity of the people it serves,” said Rajni Dronamraju, Senior Director, Charitable Giving at Genentech. “This partnership demonstrates the power of industry and not-for-profit funders joining forces to support historically underfunded talent pathways - and we hope others join us.”
“Creating systemic change in STEM higher education can’t be done by one institution acting alone,” said Espinosa. “Every institution needs to step up and do their part. We’re thrilled Genentech has joined us in our efforts.”
PIs: Anja Fourie, Eric Wilcots
Institutions Involved: National Radio Astronomy Observatory; along with 14 partner institutions
Project: To create a graduate education pathway for URM students from 14 minority-serving institution undergraduate astronomy, computer science, and data science programs to a relevant STEM graduate degree program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Full project description.
PI: Kyle Frantz
Institutions Involved: Georgia State University, Arizona State University, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Minnesota, University of Michigan, Purdue University
Project: To establish a “Math Path Program” at GSU that supports the recruitment, retention, and progression of undergraduates from diverse backgrounds in pathways to quantitative science graduate programs around the nation. Full project description.
PIs: Catherine Propper, Monica Brown, Anita Antoninka, Angelina Castagno
Institutions Involved: Northern Arizona University; Diné College; Northern Arizona University-Yuma
Project: To create long-term, equity-oriented systemic change through a partnership across institutions (NAU Mountain Campus, NAU Yuma Campus, and Diné College) aimed at reducing racial disparities in STEM graduate pathways. Full project description.
PIs: Monica Stephens-Cooley, Andrew Christlieb
Institutions Involved: Spelman College; Michigan State University
Project: To increase access for Black women pursuing a career as a data science professional. Full project description.
PI: Kelli Ching
Institutions Involved: University of Hawai’i at Manoa; University of Guam; College of the Marshall Islands
Project: To establish a pilot to create the “Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander STEM Consortium” to increase the number of students completing an undergraduate degree in STEM and seeking entrance into STEM graduate education programs. Full project description.
PIs: Demetris Geddis, Oluwatoyin Asojo
Institutions Involved: Hampton University; Brandeis University
Project: To create new pathways for Hampton undergraduates into STEM-intensive master’s programs at Brandeis by expanding their NSF-funded Partnership for Research and Education (PREM) and Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) programs. Full project description.
PIs: Mandar Kathe, Maria Calhoun, Christopher Boyce, Aaron Kyle
Institutions Involved: Tuskegee University; Columbia University
Project: To further a partnership between the engineering schools of Tuskegee University and Columbia University. Full project description.
PIs: Joey Key, Luisa Buchman
Institutions Involved: University of Washington Bothell; Heritage University
Project: To establish a partnership between the University of Washington at Bothell (UWB), an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution, and Heritage University (HU), both an HSI and a Native American Serving Non-Tribal Institution. Full project description.
PIs: Abdul Mohammed; Darlene Taylor; Fei Yan; Thomas Freeman, Jr.; Jerry Meyer; Marcey Waters; Wei You
Institutions Involved: North Carolina Central University; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Project: To increase the numbers of Black/African American students who earn advanced Chemistry degrees through a MS-to-PhD Bridge Program that links Chemistry Departments at North Carolina Central University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Full project description.
PI: Gary Moore
Institutions Involved: Arizona State University; Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Project: To increase the number of Native American students pursuing and completing PhD degrees and careers in STEM fields. Full project description.
PI: Patrice Moss
Institutions Involved: Trinity Washington University; Johns Hopkins University
Project: To create and strengthen diverse, inclusive, and equitable pathways to and through STEM graduate education, mitigating barriers such as racism, discrimination, and bias through institutional culture transformation. Full project description.
PIs: Wilfredo Resto, Luis Colón
Institutions Involved: University of Puerto Rico at Cayey; University of Buffalo
Project: To enhance pathways for students in the UPR-Cayey science programs to enter STEM masters and doctoral graduate programs. Full project description.
PIs: Ashaki Rouff, Carrie Ferraro, Luis Rivera
Institutions Involved: Rutgers University-Newark; Rutgers University-New Brunswick
Project: To create sustainable pathways to graduate education for Black/Latinx/Indigenous students in Geoscience programs across Rutgers campuses and schools. Full project description.
PIs: Josef Sifuentes, Timothy Huber, Mayra Ortiz Galarza, Sergey Grigorian, Bao-feng Feng, Zhijun Qiao
Institutions Involved: University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley; University of Texas at Dallas
Project: To formalize a strategic partnership with the University of Texas Dallas to create equitable, inclusive, and diverse pathways to graduate study in the mathematical sciences for students at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Full project description.
PIs: Amy Cook, Timothy Glotch
Institutions Involved: Stony Brook University; Lehman College
Project: To generate a pathway between (CUNY) Lehman College’s department of Earth, Environmental & Geospatial Sciences and Stony Brook University’s graduate program in Geosciences. Full project description.
PIs: Heather Dillon, EC Cline, Angela Kitali
Institutions Involved: University of Washington Tacoma; Tacoma Community College; Morgan State University
Project: To design a program that creates equitable pathways to STEM graduate education for Women and Black, Latinx, and Indigenous students based on a mentor-driven, course-based undergraduate research experience. Full project description.
PIs: Aly El-Osery, Abhishek Roy Chowdhury, Colleen Bowman, Nelia Dunbar
Institutions Involved: New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology; Navajo Technical University
Project: To generate transformative ideas that remove obstacles in minority student pathways to graduate school particularly in STEM areas with special focus on Native American students. Full project description.
PIs: Linda Hyman, Veronica Martinez-Acosta, Jennifer Morgan
Institutions Involved: Marine Biological Laboratory
Project: To develop an innovative, national model for consortium based pre-doctoral programming that will in turn establish equitable pathways to master’s and doctoral degree programs in STEM fields at institutions across the country. Full project description.
PIs: Yuanwei Jin, Rosemary Parker, Jacqueline Smith
Institutions Involved: University of Maryland Eastern Shore; Bowie State University; University of Maryland, College Park
Project: To establish a partnership between the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES), Bowie State University (BSU), and University of Maryland College Park (UMD) to develop a pathway for successful URM STEM graduate education. Full project description.
PIs: Pamela Obiomon, Fred Bonner
Institutions Involved: Prairie View A&M University; Texas A&M University
Project: To explore and understand the academic and social barriers that impede graduate pathways between the two Texas land grant institutions, Prairie View A&M University, a Historically Black University, and Texas A&M University. Full project description.