Federal Grants Aim To Boost STEM Equity

The United States Department of Education is looking to give STEM equity a boost. The department this week announced about $6.3 million in grants to programs aimed at bringing underrepresented groups into STEM careers and pursuing advanced degrees.

A total of 32 universities and colleges have been awarded the grants through two individual STEM equity programs. ("STEM equity" is a phrase used to describe efforts to improve minority and female representation in science, technology, engineering, and math education and careers.)

About $2.82 million of these funds are being distributed through the Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program. The MSEIP is focused on K-12 programs aimed at preparing underrepresented groups (especially girls, but also ethnic minorities) for STEM careers or post-secondary education. Ad ED described it, "MSEIP supports K-12 programs, tutoring for K-12 and college students, faculty and curriculum development, renovation of labs and classrooms, stipends for program participants, and a wide range of activities designed to increase minority graduates in science, technology, engineering and math fields."

Awardees of the MSEIP three-year grants included Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science in California; Florida A&M University; Miami-Dade College-North Campus; East-West University in Illinois; Jackson State University in Mississippi; Fort Belknap College in Montana; Stone Child College in Montana; North Carolina A&T; Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina; Inter American University of Puerto Rico Bayaman Campus; Universidad del Turabo in Puerto Rico; Allen University in South Carolina; Laredo Community College in Texas; Prairie View A&M University in Texas; the University of Texas at San Antonio; and Northwest Indian College in Washington. Grants ranged from about $97,000 to $200,000.

Another $3.5 million in grants will be awarded through the Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program. Unlike MSEIP, the McNair program focuses on preparing students for doctoral work, with a particular emphasis on students from disadvantaged backgrounds who show particular academic promise. "Institutions work closely with them as they complete their undergraduate requirements," according to ED, "and encourage them to enroll in graduate programs and then track their progress through to the successful completion of advanced degrees."

The McNair program will assist some 400 individual students with counseling, mentoring, financial aid, internships, and other activities, according to ED.

Awardees of the four-year McNair grants included Bloomfield College in Texas; Texas A&M University; University of Hawaii; University of Wisconsin, Stout; Winthrop University in South Carolina; Earlham College in Indiana; Heritage University in Washington; University of Wisconsin, La Crosse; California State University, Northridge; Murray State University in Kentucky; Arkansas State University; Montana State University; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Fayetteville State University in North Carolina; College of Charleston in South Carolina; and Northern Michigan University. Grants ranged from about $215,000 to $220,000.

"These grants support higher level math and science instruction and prepare minority students for careers where their skills will be in high demand," said Arne Duncan, secretary of education, in a prepared statement.

Further information about the Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program can be found here. Further information about the Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program can be found here.

About the Author

David Nagel is the former editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal, STEAM Universe, and Spaces4Learning. A 30-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art, marketing, media, and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at .