13 Minority-Serving Institutions to Receive $3 Million Grant for STEM Education

Posted By Eliana Osborn on November 18, 2015 at 9:20 am
13 Minority-Serving Institutions to Receive $3 Million Grant for STEM Education

The Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program (MSEIP) will send the Department of Education funds for thirteen colleges that serve a large number of minority students. The over $3 million grant will help these schools strengthen their STEM programs to prepare underserved student populations for the good jobs of the future.

Selected recipient institutions include a range of schools, from Alabama State University to California’s San Mateo Community College District. What each location has in common is a large population of minority students and a plan to improve science, engineering, and technology offerings. This year’s funding is only the first part of the MSEIP, with more to come if benchmarks are met.

Why the emphasis on STEM Education?

The Obama Administration has emphasized STEM fields of study as a way of moving America forward in a competitive world market. Research from the  Department of Commerce finds “a college graduate in a STEM field earns 26 percent more than a college graduate in other fields, and by 2018, jobs in the STEM fields are projected to grow twice as fast as those in other fields.”

A 2013 report from the Census Bureau documented disparities in the number of women, Hispanics, and blacks in STEM careers.  While, as of 2011, eleven percent of the workforce is black, only six percent of the STEM workforce identifies as black. The numbers are similar for Hispanics, who make up 15 percent of workers but only seven percent of those in STEM.

College students studying STEM fields mirror the same discrepancies found in the job market. According to the Disparities in STEM Employment report, “Researchers find that women, blacks, and Hispanics are less likely to be in a science or engineering major at the start of their college experience, and less likely to remain in these majors by its conclusion.

Because most STEM workers have a science or engineering college degree, underrepresentation among science and engineering majors could contribute to the underrepresentation of women, blacks, and Hispanics in STEM employment.”  The MSEIP does not specifically target gender issues in STEM; though, other programs are working to end that imbalance.

Changing employment patterns isn’t something that can happen overnight. The MSEIP will work to increase the flow of more minority candidates into STEM jobs by improving college programs that specifically target them. Schools will use grant funds in different ways; some will work to reduce barriers for entering STEM programs, others will design special projects. Either way, more students from all walks of life will be able to find opportunities in the high-paying technology and engineering job fields.

Eliana Osborn
Eliana Osborn is an associate English professor at Arizona Western College, with degrees from Brigham Young University and Northern Arizona University. She’s published widely in forums such as The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

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