How HBCUs Can Get Federal Sponsorship from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration

By: La’Shanda Holmes, Danielle Wood & Ivory Toldson

“I am 100 percent committed to the mission of NASA and its future. Because broadening our capabilities in space will continue to serve our society in ways that we can scarcely imagine. Because exploration will once more inspire wonder in a new generation — sparking passions and launching careers. And because, ultimately, if we fail to press forward in the pursuit of discovery, we are ceding our future and we are ceding that essential element of the American character.” – President Barack Obama

Prelude

This series is designed to expand federal support of HBCU research, programs, and outreach through competitive grants and contracts. The White House Initiative on HBCUs (WHIHBCUs) believes that increasing revenue to HBCUs from federal grants and contracts is vital to the long term sustainability of these institutions. By developing innovative proposals, working with HBCU liaisons at federal agencies and taking advantage of federal funding opportunities, HBCUs can increase the resources necessary to initiate and sustain vital programs.

Highlights

  • The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) selected 10 Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) for cooperative agreement awards valued at almost $47 million incrementally funded over five years. This award promotes STEM literacy, and enhances and sustains the capabilities of MSIs to perform NASA-related research and education. Five of the 10 MSIs were HBCUs.
  • In FY 2015 MUREP provided oversight to 111 active MSI awards across the United States, which help contribute to MUREP’s goals: enhancing the research, academic, and technological capabilities of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and other Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs).
  • NASA selected 20 students from across the nation to receive the agency’s Aeronautics Scholarship for the 2014-2015 school year. Undergraduate scholarship winners received $15,000 a year to cover tuition costs for two years and a $10,000 stipend during a summer internship with NASA. Graduate scholarship winners received approximately $45,000 a year for two years and $10,000 stipends for two summer internships.
  • In FY 2012, over 24,000 Space Grant-supported undergraduate and graduate students participated in scholarships, fellowships, internships and authentic hands-on research and engineering challenges.

Introduction

The Office of Education is strengthening involvement with higher education institutions to ensure that The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) can meet future workforce needs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. Participation in NASA projects and research increases the number of students who continue their studies at all levels of the higher education continuum and earn advanced degrees in these fields.

In 2013, NASA awarded over $23 million to HBCUs. Of that, $18 million went toward research and development, $1.5 million toward training, and over $600 thousand to student financial assistance. For fiscal year (FY) 15 NASA proposed a $56 million budget for the STEM Education and Accountability (SEA) program to support the Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) and STEM Education and Accountability Projects (SEAP); $30 million will support MUREP and $26 million towards SEAP.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration Overview

NASA is the federal agency responsible for the civilian space program as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. Established by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1958, NASA pursues its vision of reaching new heights and revealing the unknown to benefit humankind through four Mission Directorates: Aeronautics Research, Space Technology, Science and Human Exploration and Operations. NASA science focuses on understanding the Earth through the Earth Observing System, advancing heliophysics through the Science Mission Directorate’s Heliophysics Research Program, exploring the Solar System with advanced robotic spacecraft missions such as New Horizons, and researching astrophysics topics, such as the Big Bang, through the Great Observatories and associated programs. NASA shares data with various national and international organizations such as from the Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite.

White House Initiative on HBCUs’ Liaison to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration

As the liaison between the White House Initiative on HBCUs (WHI-HBCUs) and NASA, Joeletta Patrick works with the WHIHBCUs to organize efforts to strengthen the capacity of HBCUs through increased participation in appropriate Federal programs and initiatives.

Specifically, Ms. Patrick helps further the mission of WHIHBCU by:

  • Hosting a series of webinars and conferences to educate HBCUs on funding opportunities available to them throughout the federal government;
  • Helping award multiyear grants to assist Minority Serving Institution’s faculty and students in research of pertinent missions;
  • Recruiting underrepresented and underserved students in STEM disciplines through completion of undergraduate or graduate degrees to support their entry into the scientific and technical workforce; and
  • Encouraging institutions to collaborate with teacher preparation programs that improve the quality and diversity of STEM teachers.

Ms. Patrick serves as the manager for MUREP at NASA Headquarters in the Office of Education. The MUREP team at NASA is responsible for developing agency-wide policies, procedures, and guidelines that enhance the involvement of all minority-serving education institutions in NASA’s mission through MUREP-related activities.

NASA Funding Opportunities for HBCUs

The following list provides information about organizations and entities within NASA that provide funding or services for which HBCUs and MSIs are eligible to apply. Some programs target HBCUs, while some are available to all institutions of higher education.

  • NASA National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program (Space Grant)
  • Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP)
  • Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR)
  • STEM Education and Accountability Projects (SEAP)
  • NASA Mission Directorates
  • NASA Internships, Fellowships and Scholarships
  • NASA Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR)
  • NASA Office of Small Business Programs Mentor/Protégée Program
  • NASA Education Offices

Space Grant

The NASA National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program (Space Grant) supports competitive grants to 52 consortia in 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Space Grant supports and enhances science and engineering education and research efforts by leveraging the resource capabilities and technologies of over 900 affiliates from universities, colleges, industry, museums, science centers, and state and local agencies. Training grants with each consortium align their work with the nation’s STEM education priorities and the annual performance goals of the agency.

Space Grant enables NASA to provide opportunities for students to gain research and hands-on engineering experience on a variety of authentic flight platforms, including high-altitude balloons, sounding rockets, aircraft, and space satellites. Space Grant leverages agency investments in STEM education through collaborations with other NASA projects, including those conducted by NASA Mission Directorates, NASA Centers, and facilities. Space Grant also supports student participants in internship experiences at NASA Centers and facilities.

NASA Office of Education solicits proposals for Space Grant. Each funded proposal is expected to increase the understanding, assessment, development, and use of space and aeronautics resources. The program promotes partnerships and cooperation among universities, federal, state, and local governments, and aerospace industries to encourage and facilitate the application of university resources to aerospace and related fields.

Interesting in applying? Visit: https://www.nasa.gov/offices/education/programs/descriptions/National_Space_Grant_College_and_Fellowship_Program.html

http://nspires.nasaprs.com/external/solicitations/summary.do?method=init&solId=%7b8193CA0B-2B1E-FF66-8103-DC63E0423162%7d&path=open

Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP)

The Office of Education strives to ensure that underrepresented and underserved students participate in NASA education and research projects to help these students pursue STEM careers. The MUREP investments enhance the research, academic, and technology capabilities of MSIs through multi-year awards. Awards assist faculty and students in research and provide authentic STEM engagement related to NASA missions. In addition, the Office of Education encourages these institutions to collaborate with teacher preparation programs that improve the quality and diversity of STEM teachers.

Through MUREP, NASA provides financial assistance via competitive awards to HBCUs, Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), American Indian and Alaskan Native Serving Institutions (AIANSIs), Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs) and eligible community colleges, as reflected by the five MSI focused Executive Orders. These institutions recruit and retain underrepresented and underserved students, including women and girls, and persons with disabilities, into STEM fields.

NASA projects and research focuses on increasing the number of learners who complete their studies at all education levels and encourages students to earn advanced degrees in STEM fields that are critical to NASA and the Nation. MUREP investments assist NASA in meeting the goal of a diverse workforce through student participation in internships, fellowships, and scholarships at NASA Centers and JPL.

Projects at HBUCs that have been funded through MUREP include: Delaware State University; Elizabeth City State University; Hampton University; Howard University; Langston University; Morgan State University; Tennessee State University; University of the Virgin Islands, St. Thomas; and Xavier University.

Interesting in applying? Visit: http://www.nasa.gov/offices/education/programs/national/murep/home/index.html

Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR)

EPSCoR provides competitive grants that establish partnerships among government, higher education, and industry, and promotes lasting improvements in the research and development capacity of an eligible state or region. The intent is to improve a jurisdiction’s research infrastructure, which has the potential to contribute to its research and development competitiveness and economy. EPSCoR supports academic research projects to establish long-term, self-sustaining, and nationally competitive activities in jurisdictions with modest research infrastructure, so they can become more competitive in attracting non-EPSCoR funding. EPSCoR funds jurisdictions that have not historically participated competitively in federal aerospace-related research grants and contracts. EPSCoR also provides research and technology development opportunities for faculty and research teams. NASA actively seeks to integrate the research conducted by EPSCoR jurisdictions with the scientific and technical priorities pursued by the agency. EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Development awards are $125,000 per year for three years. EPSCoR Research Awards are up to $750,000 for a three-year performance period.

Interesting in applying? Visit: http://www.nasa.gov/offices/education/programs/national/epscor/home/index.html

STEM Education and Accountability Projects (SEAP)

STEM Education and Accountability Projects (SEAP) fund competitive grants cooperative agreements to formal and informal education institutions, such as science museums. In addition, SEAP funds contribute to professional development activities at NASA Centers and facilities, including internships, fellowships, and scholarships for high school and college students, K-12 educators, and higher education faculty.

SEAP also connects NASA’s partners, including youth-serving organizations, higher education institutions, minority serving institutions, community colleges, NASA Visitor Centers, museums, and planetaria to the broad scientific discoveries, aeronautics research, and exploration missions of the agency.

SEAP investments reflect the following portfolio priorities: focus on NASA-unique STEM engagement experiences and activities; represent all NASA mission directorates; engage with underserved and underrepresented communities/institutions; and support key NASA infrastructure components to enable portfolio coordination approaches.

Below is a partial list of SEAP’s competitively selected activities aligned to the Federal STEM Education 5-Year Strategic Plan

  1. STEM Engagement: The selected priorities for STEM Engagement contribute to the Federal Priority Investment Area: Increase and Sustain Youth and Public Engagement in STEM.
  2. NASA Internships, Fellowships, and Scholarships: The selected priorities for NASA Internships Fellowships, and Scholarships contribute to three of the Federal Priority Investment Areas: Enhance STEM Experience of Undergraduate Students; Better Serve Groups Historically Underrepresented in STEM Fields; and Design Graduate Education for Tomorrow’s STEM Workforce.
  3. Institutional Engagement: The selected priority for Institutional Engagement contributes to two of the Federal Priority Investment Areas: Increase and Sustain Youth and Public Engagement in STEM; and Improve STEM Instruction.
  4. Educator Professional Development: The selected priorities for Educator Professional Development contribute to the Federal Priority Investment Area: Improve STEM Instruction.

Interesting in applying? Visit: http://www.nasa.gov/offices/education/about/seap-overview.html

NASA Mission Directorates

The Mission Directorates of Aeronautics Research (ARMD), Human Exploration and Operations (HEOMD), Science (SMD), and Space Technology (STMD), as well as other headquarters organizations, are encouraged to integrate education components into their research and development programs and flight missions to stimulate meaningful strategic partnerships between NASA and the education community. The Mission Directorates may provide discipline-specific content and/or human resources toward selected educational projects with the primary objective of stimulating innovation in a manner that has potential to advance NASA’s mission through the collaboration with educational institutions and students. Additionally, Mission Directorates and other headquarters organizations may develop educational partnerships and collaborations specific to their disciplines and needs, including discipline-specific interactions with other federal agencies. Each Mission Directorate identifies an Education Lead, who works for the Mission Directorate and represents its Associate Administrator to the Office of Education and serves on the Education Coordinating Council (ECC) with the authority to commit resources. Education Leads are responsible for coordinating with the Office of Education and the Centers/JPL, facilitating evaluation of proposed activities using ECC-approved criteria, and facilitating data submission to the agency education data collection system.

Interesting in applying? Visit: http://www.nasa.gov/offices/education/missions/index.html

NASA Internships, Fellowships and Scholarships

NASA Internships, Fellowships, and Scholarships (NIFS) leverage NASA’s unique missions and programs to enhance and increase the capability, diversity, and size of the Nation’s future STEM workforce. NASA continues to invest in the nation’s STEM learners by providing opportunities that will launch a new era of learning, innovation, and achievement. NASA Internships are competitive awards to support educational work opportunities that provide unique NASA-related experiences for educators and high school, undergraduate, and graduate students. These opportunities engage students with real-world experiences while contributing to the operation of a NASA facility or the advancement of NASA’s missions.

NASA Fellowships are designed to support independently conceived or designed research, or senior design projects by highly qualified faculty, undergraduate, and graduate students, in disciplines needed to help advance NASA’s missions, thus affording them the opportunity to directly contribute to advancements in STEM-related areas of study. Our fellowship opportunities are focused on innovation and generate measurable research results that contribute to NASA’s current and future science and technology goals.

NASA Scholarships provide financial support to undergraduate and graduate students for studies in STEM disciplines to inspire and support the next generation of STEM professionals.

Interesting in applying? Visit: https://intern.nasa.gov/

One Stop Shopping Initiatives

OSSI is a NASA-wide system for the recruitment, application, selection and career development of undergraduate and graduate students primarily in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines. Opportunities for students in other disciplines are available. OSSI allows students to apply for NASA Internships, Fellowships and Scholarships.

Interesting in applying? Visit: https://intern.nasa.gov/content/internship-information/one-stop-shopping-initiative-ossi-student-online-a/index.html

NASA Student Ambassador Virtual Community

The NASA Student Ambassadors Virtual Community (NSAVC) is an online community network designed to foster greater interaction and mentorship among outstanding interns of NASA’s higher education projects. The goal is to provide participants with access to tools needed to serve as a NASA Student Ambassador, increase retention throughout the NASA educational pipeline into the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) workforce, and provide strategic communication opportunities.

Becoming a member of the NASA Student Ambassadors Virtual Community (NSAVC) has many benefits for current and former student interns at NASA. There are numerous resources available at your fingertips and you will become a part of a growing community of NASA Student Ambassadors’ Cohorts. NSAVC participants will enjoy the latest NASA news, science and technology updates, blogs, announcements, and forums. Additionally, Student Ambassadors have access to member profiles, networking opportunities, and links to Agency mission-related communications research and career resources.

Interesting in applying? Visit: https://intern.nasa.gov/intern/

Pathways Programs at NASA

The NASA Pathways Intern Employment Program (IEP) is for current students and individuals accepted for enrollment in a qualifying educational program. The NASA Pathways IEP provides students enrolled in a variety of educational institutions with paid opportunities to work in agencies and explore Federal careers while still in school. This program exposes students to jobs in the Federal civil service by providing meaningful development work at the beginning of their career, before their career paths are fully established.

Interesting in applying? Visit: http://nasajobs.nasa.gov/studentopps/employment/iep.htm

NASA Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR)

The NASA SBIR and STTR programs fund the research, development, and demonstration of innovative technologies that fulfill NASA needs as described in the annual Solicitations and have significant potential for successful commercialization. If you are a small business concern (SBC) with 500 or fewer employees or a non-profit RI such as a university or a research laboratory with ties to an SBC, then NASA encourages you to learn more about the SBIR and STTR programs as a potential source of seed funding for the development of your innovations.  The SBIR and STTR programs have 3 phases:

  • Phase I is the opportunity to establish the scientific, technical, commercial merit and feasibility of the proposed innovation, and the quality of the SBC’s performance.

Phase I work and results should provide a sound basis for the continued development, demonstration and delivery of the proposed innovation in Phase II and follow-on efforts. Successful completion of Phase I objectives is a prerequisite to consideration for a Phase II award.

The SBIR Phase I contracts last for 6 months and STTR Phase I contracts last for 12 months, both with a maximum funding of $125,000.

  • Phase II is focused on the development, demonstration and delivery of the innovation. Only SBCs awarded a Phase I contract are eligible to submit a proposal for a Phase II funding agreement. Phase II projects are chosen as a result of competitive evaluations and based on selection criteria provided in the Solicitation.

Phase II contracts last for 24 months with a maximum funding of $750,000.

  • Phase III is the commercialization of innovative technologies, products, and services resulting from either a Phase I or Phase II contract. Phase III contracts are funded from sources other than the SBIR and STTR programs.

Interesting in applying? Visit: http://sbir.nasa.gov/solicitations

NASA Office of Small Business Programs Mentor/Protégé Program

The NASA Mentor-Protégé Program encourages NASA prime contractors to assist eligible protégés, thereby enhancing the protégés’ capabilities to perform on NASA contracts and subcontracts, fostering the establishment of long-term business relationships between these entities and NASA prime contractors, and increasing the overall number of these entities that receive NASA contract and subcontract awards

Protégés

To participate as a protégé, an entity must meet one of the eligibility requirements as defined in NFS 1819.72 and must maintain that status for the life of the agreement. If the protégé self-certifies that it meets the eligibility requirements, a separate written self-certification of its small business status must be provided with the MPA. (Note: If protégé eligibility expires prior to the end of the agreement period, the agreement may still be approved for the remaining duration of the POP but must include the condition that any credit received is subject to the protégé’s recertification.)

A protégé may not participate in the NASA MPP more than twice. In addition, a protégé may have only one NASA mentor at any given time. In accordance with NFS 1819.72, the following entities are eligible to be chosen as protégés:

  1. Small Disadvantaged Businesses (SDBs)
  2. Woman-Owned Small Businesses (WOSBs)
  3. Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) concerns
  4. Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (VOSBs)
  5. Service-Disabled Veteran–Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSBs)
  6. Historically Black College or University (HBCUs)
  7. Minority Servicing Institutions (MSIs)
  8. Small businesses with an active NASA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase II contract
  9. Companies participating in the AbilityOne program

Interesting in applying? Visit: http://osbp.nasa.gov/mpp/index.html

NASA EDUCATION OFFICES

  • Ames Research Center
  • Armstrong Flight Research Center
  • Glenn Research Center
  • Goddard Space Flight Center
  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • Johnson Space Center
  • Kennedy Space Center
  • Langley Research Center
  • Marshall Space Flight Center
  • Stennis Space Center

Please visit http://www.nasa.gov/offices/education/centers for more information about the above education centers.

Conclusion

Today, HBCUs have opportunities to collaborate with NASA to enhance their research, academic, and technological capabilities, as well as provide their students with scholarships, fellowships, internships and authentic hands-on research and engineering challenges. The information contained in this report is designed to give HBCUs an overview of the specific programs within NASA that could benefit their institutions. From this information, HBCUs should further assess the opportunities through NASA program websites, establish a relationship with the program officers, and establish a plan to apply.

For more than half of a century, NASA has been an essential aspect of our national pride and identity. During President Obama’s Final State of the Union Address, he stated “60 years ago, when the Russians beat us into space, we didn’t deny Sputnik was up there. We didn’t argue about the science, or shrink our research and development budget. We built a space program almost overnight, and twelve years later, we were walking on the moon.” Therefore, broadening the participation of HBCUs in NASA programs does more than connect schools to valuable resources. Meaningful partnerships between HBCUs and NASA keep HBCUs well-positioned to be in the epicenter our national priority to lead the world in space exploration.

Additional Links

  1. NASA Higher Education Contacts: http://www.nasa.gov/offices/education/contacts/highed.html
  2. NASA Education: http://www.nasa.gov/offices/education/about/index.html
  3. NASA Jobs: http://nasajobs.nasa.gov/default.htm
  4. Current Opportunities: http://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/current-opps-index.html
  5. Sign up for updates from NASA and STEM associates about workshops, internships, and fellowships; applications for grants or collaborations; promotions for student and educator opportunities; online professional development; and other announcements. NASA education EXPRESS: https://www.nasa.gov/audience/foreducators/Express_Landing.html

La’Shanda Holmes is a special assistant to the administrator of NASA. She is a 2015-2016 White House Fellow placed at NASA for the year. She is also an active duty Coast Guard pilot and graduate of Spelman College.

Danielle Wood is a special assistant to the deputy administrator of NASA. Prior to this role, she worked a systems engineer with the Aerospace Corporation and as a researcher with Johns Hopkins University. She earned her doctoral degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she studied aerospace engineering, technology policy and international development.

Ivory A. Toldson is the executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. He is currently on leave from his position as associate professor at Howard University.

Ajiah Graham Celebrates #CSEdWeek

2015 HBCU All-Star

Celebrating #CSEdWeek

Why did you decide to major in Computer Science?

Ajiah Graham
Ajiah Graham
J.F. Drake State Community and Technical College
Sophomore, Computer Science

I decided to major in Computer Science because it is a continuous and evolving career area that has and will continue to impact our daily lives. This field ranges from programming to computer maintenance. Computing is a part of everything we do and aide in making some activities in our lives better. This field of study is known to help solve challenging problems in the world. I chose to major in computer science because of rewarding careers it has to offer. These jobs are here to stay regardless of the location. Although there are plenty of job opportunities in Computer Science, studies have shown the lack of minorities in this particular STEM field. This has inspired me to increase the number of minorities in Computer Science.

What do you plan to do with your computer science major in the future?

I enjoy Computer Science because there are opportunities to work in a team or as the individual. I plan to work as a software engineer, and eventually become an entrepreneur and open up a computer programming company to develop software that enhances the teaching and learning of STEM in the minority population. I would also like to develop various software for upcoming and newly developed companies that need new systems built to cater to their specific needs. Also, I not only want to become an entrepreneur myself, but I would like to inspire others to become entrepreneurs as well.


Ajiah Graham is a 2015 HBCU All-Star from J.F. Drake State Community and Technical College. She is a sophomore and computer science major.

Sidney Smith Celebrates #CSEdWeek

2015 HBCU All-Star

Celebrating #CSEdWeek

Why did you decide to major in Computer Science?

Sidney Smith

Sidney Smith
University of Arkansas, Pine Bluff
Senior, Computer Science

I will never forget registration day for college. I sat with my counselor and she asked what I would like to major in. I was unsure and told her “general studies.” She said that would be a bad idea and I should pick something. I came up with Information Technology (IT). She stated our school’s “IT” was for “INDUSTRIAL Technology,” and the only field of study pertaining to computers was Computer Science. I figured I would give it a try. My first semester I was enrolled in Computer Science I. The first time I coded, executed, and saw my work run perfectly was a spark that lit the fire. I am now one semester away from graduating with honors in Computer Science and Mathematics.

 

What do you plan to do with your computer science major in the future?

Oddly enough I am becoming very passionate about agriculture and growing my own food. On the surface it would seem having a background in CS is totally irrelevant. Luckily for me computers are used in every field in these technological times. I am in the process of interviewing with a prominent, world-wide technological company as a Software Engineer. This is one of the highest paid occupations to date. I have also become quite found of Data Analytics and Database Administration. These two practices will assist in the agriculture venture. I am also able to establish networks and design websites either professionally or as a lucrative side hustle.


Sidney Smith is a 2015 HBCU All-Star from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.  He is a senior and computer science major.

Angelica Willis Celebrates #CSEdWeek

2015 HBCU All-Star

Celebrating #CSEdWeek

Why did you decide to major in Computer Science?

Angelica Willis

Angelica Willis North Carolina A&T University Junior, Computer Science

When the time came for me to choose a major in college, I was stumped. I knew that I was good at math and that I loved problem solving, therefore STEM interested me; however, I felt like a kid in a candy store being told I could only choose one treat from the hundreds of available varieties. For a while, I thought I liked architecture enough to spend four years of my academic life, and hopefully the rest of my career, pursuing it. I later realized that was not the case. I embarked on similar journeys of discovery followed by eventual commitment issues with biomedical engineering, aerospace engineering, and ecology. As college application season approached, I put my research skills to good use and made a hypothesis: there has to be one common thread that links every facet of innovation–an occupation that is vital to every STEM related industry–that will allow me to dabble in everything I love.

 

 

What do you plan to do with your computer science major in the future?

Computer science proved my hypothesis, as it is crucial to innovation in all disciplines of STEM. Everything from the mapping of the human genome and 3D modeling, to space travel and driverless car technology, relies heavily on software engineering and data science. I want to become the type of computer scientist who contributes to ambitious, exploratory and ground-breaking projects that positively and dramatically affect the technological advancement of mankind. I am now a junior computer science student at North Carolina A&T State University who enjoys coding to solve global problems.

Andronica Klaas

2015 HBCU  All-Star

Celebrating #CSEDWeek

 Why did you decide to major in Computer Science?

Andronica Klaas

Andronica Klaas
Johnson C. Smith University
Junior, Computer Science

Even though I will be the first of my siblings to graduate college, my major was influenced greatly by my engineering and tech related background; my older sister is a self-taught electrician, my older brother is a self-taught computer genie and my little sister is an absolute science junkie. Growing up around a love for STEM challenged me to find my niche and I eventually grew to realize that my brother and I both shared a love for computers. Along with this experience, I spent 3 years in high school taking Information Technology as one of my major subjects and absolutely loved it – it was challenging yet fun and I later grew a passion for the field. Upon my arrival in college I decided to pursue computer science because through the above-mentioned experiences I had learned that I have a passion for this field. I later grew to find more benefits of being in computer science that have influenced me to continue pursuing the field, benefits such as; the opportunity of working in a wide range of industries, serving as a mentor to young black female aspiring computer scientists, joining a fast growing industry, having more job prospects and earning a higher salary upon graduation in comparison to my peers.

 

What do you plan to do with your computer science major in the future?

 

In the near future, specifically upon graduation, I plan on attending graduate school and advancing my computer science degree to an MBA in Information Systems and eventually advancing it to a PhD in Computer Science and Information Systems. I plan to continue obtaining the necessary knowledge and skills in my field, until I reach a point at which I can devise ways through which to bridge the digital divide. I plan on working with third world countries, especially South Africa, to bridge the divide by sharing the knowledge and skills obtained throughout my years of schooling and training.


Andronica Klaas is a 2015 HBCU All-Star attending Johnson C. Smith University.  She is a junior studying computer science.

How HBCUs Can Get Federal Sponsorship from the United States Department of Health & Human Services

By: Ivory A. Toldson, Tracy Branch, & DeShawn Preston

Highlights

  • The United States Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) provides more financial support to HBCUs than any federal agency aside from the Department of Education; typically accounting for more than $150 million annually to HBCUs.
  • In FY 2014, HHS awarded $18.4 billion to Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) with $166.1 million awarded to HBCUs. Less than 1 percent of the funding HHS awards to all IHEs go to HBCUs.
  • In FY 2014, HHS awarded more than $111.6 million to HBCUS for research and development.
  • For FY 2016, President Obama requested $83.8 billion, an increase of $4.8 billion from FY 2015 to help 1) make health coverage affordable; 2) decrease long-term health care cost; 3) improve care for citizens of the United States of America; 4) train new health care providers; 5) address public health priorities; 6) assist vulnerable populations; and 7) support medical research.
  • Of the operating divisions within HHS, the National Institutes of Health, Health Resources and Services Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provided the largest percentage of funding to institutions of higher education in fiscal year 2014.

For more than a century, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have conducted research, implemented programs and provided advocacy on a range of issues relevant to the health and wellbeing of all people, but especially underserved communities. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) supports the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities’ (WHIHBCUs) efforts to connect HBCUs to the resources necessary to develop and maintain first-rate health and educational programs.

In fiscal year (FY) 2014, HHS committed $175,227,288 to support 54 HBCUs and 11 predominately-Black institutions’ (PBI) efforts to increase workforce diversification and improve educational and health care access to underrepresented racial and ethnic minority populations. In total, HHS provided $18,429,409,906 in support to all institutions of higher education. HBCUs received $693,506,518 in funding while PBIs received $9,049,140. These funds were awarded through grants, contracts, services, and in-kind resources in 2014.

Investments in HBCUs and PBIs help to establish best practice models, address health disparities, provide tuition assistance and training opportunities for students, as well as grants and loan repayment to faculty. In FY 2016, HHS plans to support MSIs in the following programmatic areas: (1) research and development; (2) program evaluation; (3) training; (4) internships, traineeships, and recruitment; (5) student tuition assistance, scholarships, fellowships, and other aid; (6) direct institutional subsidies; (7) third-party awards; (8) administrative infrastructure; (9) economic development; (10) facilities and equipment; (11) private-sector involvement; and (12) other activities.

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Overview

The mission of HHS is to enhance and protect the health and well-being of all Americans. This mission is fulfilled by providing effective health and human services and fostering advances in medicine, public health, and social services. HHS was established in 1980 by combining offices from several federal agencies. HHS’s 77,000 employees work under three main branches; Operating Divisions, which is comprised of 11 operating division, including 8 public health agencies and 3 human services agencies; Office of the Secretary Staff Divisions, which provides leadership through 17 offices that oversee operations, provide guidance, and ensures laws are followed fairly; and Regional Offices, where 10 regional offices oversee programs at the local level.

For FY 2016, President Obama requested $83.8 billion, an increase of $4.8 billion from FY 2015 to help 1) make health coverage affordable; 2) decrease long-term health care cost; 3) improve care for citizens of the United States of America; 4) train new health care providers; 5) address public health priorities; 6) assist vulnerable populations; and 7) support medical research.

Specific line items in the FY 2016 budget request include:

  • For National Institute of Health (NIH), $638 million for Alzheimer’s research , $135 million for the BRAIN Initiative, and a $100 million increase for antimicrobial resistance;
  • For the reauthorization of the Health Profession and opportunity Grants, an increase of $4 million; and
  • An increase of $40 million for a competitive, value-based graduate medical education program.

White House Initiative on HBCUs’ Liaison to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

The Office of Minority Health (OMH) is the HHS lead agency on the WHIHBCUs. Dr. J. Nadine Gracia is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health and the Director of the Office of Minority Health at HHS. OMH provides funding, training, and in-kind services to HBCUs and PBIs to support programs and organizational and professional development that improve academic institutions ability to increase the number of underrepresented individuals’ ability to complete a college degree and enter the workforce.

As the HBCU liaison for HHS, Dr. Rashida Dorsey works with the WHIHBCUs to organize efforts to strengthen the capacity of HBCUs through increased participation in appropriate Federal programs and initiatives. Specifically, Dr. Dorsey helps the WHIHBCUs to: (1) Establish how the department or agency intends to increase the capacity of HBCUs to compete effectively for grants, contracts, or cooperative agreements and to encourage HBCUs to participate in Federal programs; (2) Identify Federal programs and initiatives where HBCUs may be either underserved or underused, and improve the Participation within those areas; and (3) Encourage public and private sector, as well as community involvement in improving the overall capacity of HBCUs. Dr. Dorsey is the director of the Division of Policy and Data in the Office of Minority Health. Her email address is Rashida.Dorsey@hhs.gov.

What opportunities are there for HBCUs to compete for grants/contracts through HHS?

Of the operating divisions within HHS, the National Institutes of Health, Health Resources and Services Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provided the largest percentage of funding to institutions of higher education in fiscal year 2014.

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

As the nation’s leading biomedical research agency, NIH funds research that has the potential to enhance human health, lengthen life and reduce illness and disability. NIH is the largest funder of HBCUs within HHS. For active funding opportunities, see the NIH Guide to Grants and Contacts’ Funding Opportunities and Notices. HBCUs are encouraged to subscribe to the NIH Guide listserv for current opportunities available from each of NIH’s 24 grant-making Institutes and Centers (IC). NIH offers several types of grant opportunities, including Research Grants, Career Development Awards, Research Training and Fellowships, Program Project/Center Grants, Resource Grans, and Trans-NIH Program Grants.

There are three standard due dates annually for competitive grant applications with other targeted opportunities announced throughout the year. NIH’s ICs each publish an annual funding strategy, including research priorities and award policies. HBCUs can also attend NIH Regional Seminars. These seminars help with the application and review process, clarify Federal regulations and policies, and highlight current areas of special interest or concern.

NIH provided $17,095,532,583 in funding to all IHEs during fiscal year 2014, of that funding $117,181,426 supported HBCUs and $8,192,549 supported PBIs in the form of grants and contracts. All of the funding made to HBCUs and PBIs in FY 2014, supported research and development, and training activities. FY 2016 projects to allocate $31.3 billion to support biomedical research at NIH, providing over 1,200 more new Research Project Grants that will aid in better understanding the fundamental causes and mechanisms of diseases.

An increase of $200 million has been proposed for the Precision Medicine Initiative. Precision medicine is an emerging approach for disease treatment and prevention that takes into account individual variability in genes, environment, and lifestyle for each person. President Obama unveiled the Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) — a bold new enterprise to revolutionize medicine and generate the scientific evidence needed to move the concept of precision medicine into every day clinical practice.

Some specific NIH programs worth noting are:

  • Research Centers in Minority Institutions Programs (RMCI) – RCMI programs develop and strengthen the research infrastructure of minority serving institutions through the expansion of human and physical resources for conducting basic, clinical, and translational research.  Funding supports institutions with health professions, health related, and doctoral degree programs in the basic, biomedical, and applied sciences.
  • Loan Repayment Program (LRP) Extramural LRP supports researchers by furnishing student loan repayment for a commitment to the conduct of biomedical, behavioral, social, and clinical research. These health professionals are required to commit a minimum of two years to conducting qualified research funded by a U.S. nonprofit organization or government entity in exchange for NIH’s repayment of $35,000 maximum per year of qualified student loan debt. Loan repayment benefits are offered in addition to the institutional salary earned for the research.
  • Biomedical and Cancer Education to Middle/High School and Undergraduate students– This program funds existing programs at HBCUs and other MSIs to sustain and expand the training and education programs to attract middle and high school students into biomedical sciences early, and encourage increased graduation of undergraduate students as well as ensure their successful progression through the education path.
  •  Research Supplements to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research- The program is designed to improve the diversity of the research workforce by recruiting and supporting high school and undergraduate students, post-doctorates, and eligible investigators from traditionally underrepresented populations into research internship and training opportunities.
  • Center of Excellence (COE) Program is a congressionally mandated program that creates centers within colleges and universities to address health disparities. The program focuses on the fundamental strategies of research, training a diverse scientific workforce, and community engagement.
  • Research Endowment Program is a congressionally mandated program that supports research infrastructure and capacity-building at eligible academic institutions.
  • Building Research Infrastructure and Capacity (BRIC) Program, formerly the Research Infrastructure in Minority Institutions (RIMI) program provides grants to enhance the research capacity, educational programs, and curricula of colleges and universities that serve students from health disparity populations.
  • Resource-Related Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Initiative supports health disparities research activities using a cooperative agreement which requires substantial Federal scientific or programmatic involvement. The initiative focuses on bioethics research, global health, data infrastructure and information dissemination, and research on healthcare for rural populations.
  • Science Education Initiative (SEI) supports educational, mentoring, and career development programs for individuals from health disparity populations that are underrepresented in the research sciences. The program consists of five separate initiatives ranging from kindergarten through early-stage investigators and an outreach component.
  • Transdisciplinary Collaborative Centers (TCC) for Health Disparities Research – TCC programs support regional coalitions of academic institutions, community organizations, service providers and systems, government agencies and other stakeholders focused on health policy research, social determinants of health and men’s health research.

For 2016, the NIH awarded major awards to Howard University, Meharry Medical College, North Carolina Central University and Savannah State University.

Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)

HRSA has a number of funding opportunities under the Bureau of Health workforce. HRSA provided $660,984,499 in funding to all IHEs during fiscal year 2014; of that funding $35,966,274 supported HBCUs and $753,001 supported PBIs in the form of contracts and grants. All funding made to HBCUS and PBIs in fiscal year 2014, supported research and development, training, student tuition assistance, program evaluation, and other activities.

Some specific HRSA programs worth noting are:

  • Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students – The purpose of this program is to promote diversity among health professions students and practitioners by providing scholarships to full-time students with financial need from disadvantaged backgrounds enrolled in health professions and nursing programs.
  • Nursing Workforce Diversity (NWD) Program – The purpose of NWD is to increase nursing education opportunities for individuals who are from disadvantaged backgrounds, including racial and ethnic minorities that are underrepresented among registered nurses. Grant activities and partnerships will focus on supporting education, training, licensure, and career placement of health professions students from disadvantaged backgrounds, including racial and ethnic minorities underrepresented among health professionals.
  • Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) Program – The purpose of this program is to enhance access to high quality, culturally competent health care through academic-community partnerships that improve the distribution, diversity, and supply of the primary care professionals who serve in underserved health care delivery sites.
  • National Health Service Corps Outreach to Minority Serving Institutions – HRSA’s Bureau of Health Workforce plans to continue to engage in outreach and recruitment visits to HBCUs to educate medical and health professions students and residents about opportunities to participate in and apply for the NHSC and NURSE Corps Scholarship and Loan Repayment Programs.
  • Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training Professional/paraprofessionals – The training program is to assist in developing and expanding the mental health and substance abuse workforce, who after training, will focus on children, adolescents, and transition-age youth at risk for developing, or who have developed, a recognized behavioral health disorder.

Most of the HBCU awards from HRSA for 2016 have been committed to medical colleges, including Meharry Medical College, Morehouse School of Medicine and Howard University Medical School. Notable exceptions include, Southern University Shreveport, which received funding for the Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP): Skills Training and Health Workforce Development for Paraprofessionals, and Tougaloo College, which received more than $1 million for its Delta Health Partners Healthy Start Initiative-Eliminating Perinatal Health Disparities.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

CDC provided $513, 816,419 in funding to all IHEs during FY 2014; $3,553,954 of the funds awarded to HBCUs was in the form of grants. FY 2014 funding supported research, disease prevention, surveillance, and training programs for undergraduate students through post-doctoral professionals in a variety of health disciplines.

Part C Early Intervention Services funds comprehensive primary health care for individuals living with HIV disease. Screening programs provide risk-reduction counseling, antibody testing, medical evaluation, and clinical care. Health care programs provide antiretroviral therapies (ART), medical, oral health, nutritional, psychosocial, and other care services for HIV-infected clients. Social services provide case management to ensure access to services and continuity of care for HIV-infected clients and attention to other health problems that occur frequently with HIV infection, including tuberculosis and substance abuse.

For 2016, the CDC awarded its largest grants to HBCUs to Morehouse School of Medicine to increase access to chronic disease prevention, risk reduction, and management opportunities, and Morehouse College to support an 8-week summer internship to encourage undergraduate students’ interest in minority health. They also awarded $206,108 to Tuskegee University support an annual commemoration of the Presidential Apology for the U.S. Public Health Service Syphilis Study at Tuskegee, Alabama and promote public health ethics.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

SAMHSA provided $36,381,339 in funding to all minority-serving institutions in fiscal year 2014; of that funding $7,998,000 supported HBCUs and 99,878 supported PBIs in the form of grants. All funding made to HBCUs in FY 2014 supported training and other activities.

The Historically Black Colleges and Universities Center for Excellence in Behavioral Health is housed under SAMHSA Programs and Initiatives. This program: (1) Promote student behavioral health to positively impact student retention; (2) Expand campus service capacity, including the provision of culturally appropriate behavioral health resources; and (3) Facilitate best practices dissemination and behavioral health workforce development.

Minority Serving Institutions in Partnership with Community-Based Organizations (MSI CBO) Program is also under SAMHSA. MSI CBO reaches students in minority serving institutions and individuals in neighboring communities who are at risk for substance abuse and new HIV infection transmission. MSI CBO programs provide students with access to behavioral health services that are culturally, linguistically, gender, and age appropriate. For 2016, SAMHSA has committed awards of $250,000 or more to 33 different HBCUs under the MSI CBO program.

What advice does the Department of Health & Human Services give to HBCUs in order to be more competitive in obtaining grants and contracts?

  1. Attend Seminars. Various organizations within HHS provide seminars to give insight into current issues within their organization including the state of current funding; new and current policies and procedure; and pertinent administrative issues. Officers representing each organization within HHS will also be present to provide up-to-date information about various funding opportunities and to answer any questions. OMH facilitates the Higher Education Technical Assistance Project (HE-TAP) Regional Training program. The program supports institutions of higher education, to include HBCUs, through in-person regional trainings that provide attendees with training, information, and resources to support college and university fiscal development goals. Visit this link to learn more about the HE-TAP program.
  2. Get involved. The various organizations within HHS are always seeking qualified individuals to participate in the reviewing process of applications for grant funding. Working in such positions will provide a better understanding of how to compose an effective proposal, as well as more insight to how HBCUs can receive more funds.
  3. Make connections. Contact the program officer in charge of each division within the directorate before starting the application. Find out about administration priorities and application imperatives. If you have difficulties identifying the program officer within the divisions, contact the assistant director of each directorate.
  4. Start early. Institutions should apply for grant funding early while also striving for the proposal to be collaborative, evidence-based, measured, and comprehensive. Build in an initial rejection and revision into the expected time between starting the application and getting funded.
  5. Collaborate. The Health and Human Services recommends IHEs apply for grants as the primary fiscal agent, in addition identify partnerships with local and national agencies, regional organizations, and a variety of relevant affiliates.
  6. Ground your proposal in research. Successful grant proposals provide in-depth scholarly work and concrete action plans. Consult the program director for each division to understand the accepted validated standards for HHS programs.
  7. If first you don’t succeed, try again. If your institution is denied grant funding, it is imperative to seek counsel from the organizations within HHS to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the proposal. The agency suggests that denied applicants capitalize on this feedback to revise grant proposal and reapply in the next application season.

All institutions of higher education are eligible to apply for competitive funding opportunities posted by HHS agencies. Information on funding opportunities can be found on the agencies funding website or by visiting one of these websites.

  • OMH Resource Centercan provide tailored funding searches free of charge to organizations and institutions;
  • Grants.gov – can provide tailored funding opportunity searches free of charge, also sign up for email notification when new funding meeting your criteria is announced; and
  • Bid Contract – posts federal, state, and local government contract opportunities.

Opportunities are also available for individuals willing to serve as peer reviewers for grants. Serving as a peer reviewer provides individuals with the opportunity to learn the nuances of the grant writing process and the level of detail that grant reviewers are looking for in grant application submissions. Follow the links below to sign up to be a peer reviewer.

Conclusion

HHS has boundless opportunities for HBCUs for advance health research, practice and policy through grants, contracts, fellowships and many other forms of financial and in-kind support. Although HHS provides more financial support to HBCUs than any other federal agency aside from the Department of Education, less than one percent of the funding HHS awards to all IHEs go to HBCUs. The percentage and the total revenue of funds to HBCUs from HHS will increase with coordinated efforts between federal agency officials and HBCU leaders to (1) increase the total number of applications that HHS receives from HBCUs; (2) identify and mitigate any barriers to HBCU participation within HHS; and (3) improve the overall competitiveness of HBCU applications and proposals. The WHIHBCUs will continue to provide reports such as this, which has information regarding the agency’s HBCU liaison, background facts, funding trends, existing HBCU relationships, and agency emphasis. The WHIHBCUs is here to work with Federal partners to provide technical support to HBCUs who are interested in applying for funding from HHS.

 


Ivory A. Toldson, Ph.D., is the executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. He is currently on leave from his position as associate professor at Howard University.

Tracy Branch is a commander for the U.S. Public Health Service and public health advisor to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health.

DeShawn Preston is a doctoral student in Higher Educational Leadership at Clemson University. He holds a B.A. in History from Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama. His dissertation topic examines the role/influences HBCUs play in assisting African Americans with enrollment into doctoral programs.

How HBCUs Can Get Federal Sponsorship from the National Science Foundation

By: Ivory A. Toldson & DeShawn Preston

Highlights

  • The National Science Foundation (NSF) funds more than 11,000 grants to support research, education, and training projects annually.
  • NSF accounts for 24 percent of all federal support to colleges and universities in the United States for basic research.
  • In 2014, NSF awarded $5,253,638,733 to Institutions of Higher Education with $91,230,809 of the funding awarded to HBCUs.
  • For Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, the budget proposes $1.2 billion for STEM education activities, including NSF research Traineeships, Cyber Corps; Scholarships for Service; Graduate Research Fellowship Program; Improving Undergraduate STEM Education; and NSF INCLUDES (Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners that have been Underrepresented for Diversity in Engineering and Science).

Introduction

Although Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) make up only 2 percent of the nation’s institutions of higher education (IHEs), they are the primary incubators of Black students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). According to a recent NSF report, 21 of the top 50 institutions for producing Black graduates who go on to receive their doctorates in Science and Engineering (S&E) are HBCUs. In 2012, HBCUs awarded 17.8 percent of Science and Engineering bachelor’s degrees to Black students.

The National Science Foundation awards over $5 billion to institutes of higher education (IHEs), however HBCUs received only 1.7 percent of this revenue in the most recent year of data available. Over the past two FYs (2012, 2013) the funding to HBCUs declined primarily because of reductions in the funding of LSAMP, CREST, and two scholarships (SFS- S STEM). The purpose of this article is to provide information to assist HBCUs who are interested in securing federal sponsorship for their research and programs through NSF.

The National Science Foundation Overview

The National Science Foundation’s mission is to “promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense,” by identifying and funding work at the frontier of science and engineering. NSF was created by Congress in 1950 as an independent federal agency and employs about 2,100 people, including 1,400 career employees, 200 scientists from research institutions on temporary duty, and 450 contract workers and staff. NSF is divided into seven directorates made up by divisions that support science and engineering research and education.

The FY 2016 budget requests $7.7 billion, an increase of $379.3 million from FY 2015 for NSF. This increase will mirror the agenda from President Obama’s administration to support science and engineering broadly, as well as the people that are enhancing the nation’s scientific knowledge and discovery. This budget will allow NSF to continue to make investments in learning and discovery that will grow the economy, sustain a competitive advantage, and enable the United States to remain the world leader in innovation. Specifically, the FY 2016 request:

  • $143.9 million to Understanding the Brain (UtB), contributing to the Administration’s Brain Research through Advancing Innovation and Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative.
  • $58 million to Risk and Resilience, which aims to improve predictability, risk assessment, increase resilience to extreme natural and manmade events, and to rescue the impact on the quality of life, society, and the economy.
  • The Nexus of Food, Energy, and Water Systems (INFEWS) to receive $74.96 million to study, design, and model how food, energy, and water systems operate through research.
  • $15 million to Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners that have been Underrepresented for Diversity in Engineering and Science (NSF INCLUDES) for national initiatives to increase the preparation, participation, advancement, and potential contributions to underrepresented students in STEM.

White House Initiative on HBCUs’ Liaison to the National Science Foundation

As the liaison between the White House Initiative on HBCUs (WHIHBCUs) and NSF, Tracy Gorman works with the WHIHBCUs to organize efforts to strengthen the capacity of HBCUs through increased participation in appropriate Federal programs and initiatives.

Specifically, Ms. Gorman helps the WHIHBCUs to:

  • Establish how the department or agency intends to increase the capacity of HBCUs to compete effectively for grants, contracts, or cooperative agreements and to encourage HBCUs to participate in Federal programs;
  • Identify Federal programs and initiatives where HBCUs may be either underserved or underused, and improve the participation within those areas; and
  • Encourage public and private sector, as well as community involvement in improving the overall capacity of HBCUs.

Ms. Gorman serves as a NSF Program Officer and Staff Assistant in the office of the Director for NSF. She is responsible for tracking funds allocated to Minority Serving Institutions and for writing the annual funding report.

What Opportunities are there for HBCUs to compete for grants/contracts through NSF?

There are over 300 funding opportunities offered by NSF in which Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs), including HBCUs, are encouraged to apply. The best way to gain access to these funds is to align research and grant proposals to agency-identified priority areas. HBCUs should identify the needs and requests from science and engineering communities, and congressional interests to increase the probability of allocating funds from NSF. HBCUs can review the funding opportunities for IHEs offered by NSF on their webpage (http://www.nsf.gov/funding/). Funding can be identified by either program area (e.g. biology, cyberinfrastructure, engineering, geosciences, and physical sciences) or type of activities (e.g. cross-cutting, NSF-wide, or broadening participation).

Research and Development (R&D)

The majority of NSF’s solicited and unsolicited funding activities come from R&D. For FY 2016, NSF projects to fund $4.1 billion to IHEs for R&D. Research projects are proposed by single investigators or collaborative teams. Teams are supported in the following areas: biology; geosciences; engineering; education; social, behavioral, and economic sciences; mathematical and physical sciences; and computer and information science and engineering. In FY 2014, HBCUs were awarded new and incremental funding from 64 research programs. From the 64 research programs HBCUs received $34.8 million of the $4.1 billion allocated to IHEs, making up only 0.8 percent of all funds for R&D.

  • Core Research: These programs provide funding for basic research in the science and engineering fields supported by NSF. Funding for this particular category can be solicited or unsolicited. The research may focus on a single discipline or interdisciplinary. Information about core research areas and activities can be found on the seven Directorate/Division webpage.
  • Foundation-wide: All directorates within NSF participate in this award. These solicitation driven programs fund basic research and education in all supported NSF fields of science and engineering. Some of the programs in this category are The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program, Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU), and Increasing the Participation and Advancement of Women in Academic Science and engineering Careers (ADVANCE).
  • Targeted Programs: HBCUs in previous years have participated in targeted programs within R&D. These programs are solicitation driven and cover a number of research activities looking to develop on-campus research capacity or partnerships within a region, internationally, or with other institutions of higher education. Program eligibility and requirements maybe restricted and are detailed in the solicitation. Centers of Research Excellence in Science and Technology (CREST), HBCU Research Infrastructure for Science and Engineering (HBCU-Rise), Partnerships for Research and Education in Materials (PREM), and Partnerships in Astronomy and Astrophysics Research and Education (PAARE) are all targeted programs eligible to HBCUS or Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) and have all been awarded to a number of HBCUs.

Education and Training

The majority of the programs in this category are centered on advancing STEM learning, improving scientific knowledge, and preparing a globally competitive science and engineering workforce. HBCUs have proven to be most successful in this particular category. In FY 2014, HBCUs were awarded new and incremental funding from 14 programs, receiving $53.2 million making up 7.8 percent of all funds allocated to IHEs. This category includes the majority of programs specifically eligible to MSIs, such as the Louis Stoke Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP), Historically Black Colleges and Universities Undergraduate Program (HBCU-UP),and Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP). For FY 2016, the president’s budget request to Congress proposes $15 million for a new program, NSF INCLUDES (Inclusion across the nation of Communities of Learners that have been Underrepresented for Diversity in Engineering and Science).

Facilities and Equipment

Another area where HBCUs are more successful within NSF is in support of Facilities and Equipment. In FY 2014, HBCUs received $2.5 million, making up 2.4 percent of all funds allocated to IHEs. In total, eight HBCUs received new MRI awards. The majority of the awards received by HBCUs come from the major Research instrumentation Program (MRI). MRI desires to improve the quality and expand research and training in science and engineering, and to integrate research and education by providing instrumentation for research-intensive learning environments. For FY 2016, the budget will see a 0.2 percent decrease in funding for facilities and equipment. However, HBCUs are still encouraged to seek funding in this area.

Fellowships, Internships, Traineeships, Recruitment and IPAs

There are several programs throughout NSF that fund fellowships, internships, traineeships, and recruitment. Funding to HBCUs has supported individuals in two major programs: Graduate Research Fellowships (GRF) and Intergovernmental Personnel Mobility Act (IPA). In FY 2014, HBCUs received support for one GRF and four IPAs, bringing in $568,000 to all HBCUs, and making up 0.2 percent of all funds allocated to IHEs. The various opportunities offered through this category are vital roles at NSF, especially IPAs. Having active personnel in various roles will allow HBCUs to build stronger relationships with NSF, as well as learn a more effective strategy to receive grants.

What advice does the National Science Foundation have for HBCUs who are seeking federal grants and contracts?

  1. Subscribe to NSF Updates. An online subscription service offers updates on events, funding opportunities, publications, and vacancies, among other items. IHEs may customize their subscription so it focuses on activities or programs of interest to them. https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/USNSF/subscriber/new?pop=t&qsp=823
  2. Attend NSF Grant Conferences. NSF provides a bi-annual conference to give insight into current issues at NSF including the state of current funding; new and current policies and procedures; and pertinent administrative issues. Officers representing each NSF directorate will also be present to provide up-to-date information about various funding opportunities and to answer any questions. To be notified of future conferences sign up at http:events.signup4.com/nsfnotification
  3. Get involved. The various directorates within NSF are always seeking qualified individuals to participate in the reviewing process of applications for grant funding. The same individuals may also qualify for IPA assignments, panelists, advisors. Working in such positions will provide an understanding of the operations and goals of NSF, as well as more insight to how HBCUs can receive more funds.
  4. Make connections.  Contact the program officer listed on the program webpage or in a solicitation before starting the application. Find out about the program priorities and application imperatives. If you have difficulty identifying the appropriate program officer, contact the Division Director.   A complete NSF organization list (directorates and divisions) including phone numbers is available online at http://www.nsf.gov/staff/orglist.jsp.
  5. Start early. Institutions should apply for grant funding early while also striving for the proposal to be collaborative, evidence-based, measured, and comprehensive. Build in an initial rejection and revision into the expected time between starting the application and getting funded.
  6. The National Science Foundation recommends IHEs to apply for grants as the primary fiscal agent, in addition identify partnerships with local and national agencies, regional organizations, and a variety of relevant affiliates.
  7. Ground your proposal in research. Successful grant proposals provide in-depth scholarly work and consist of concrete action plans. Consult the program director for each division to understand the accepted validated standards for NSF programs.
  8. If first you don’t succeed, try again. If your institution is denied grant funding, it is imperative to seek the counsel of NSF to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the proposal. The agency suggests that denied applicants capitalize on this feedback to revise grant proposal and reapply in the next application season.

Conclusion

There are many grant opportunities within NSF. While NSF has special programs gear towards minority and HBCUs, they have a number of competitive opportunities that are available to all IHEs. In order to increase funding, HBCUs must take full advantage of all funding opportunities, and not limit proposals to opportunities designated specifically to HBCUs.

In recent years HBCUs have mainly received funds for educational activities. The awards are typically distributed to programs such as HBCU RISE, HBCU-UP, and CREST, which have not seen an increase in the budget since 2014. In order for HBCUs to increase funding opportunities these institutions must broaden the participation within NSF. HBCUs must apply for more grants and research within Research and Development where they are only receiving 0.8 percent of the funds and in Fellowships, Internships, Traineeships, Recruitment, and IPAs where they only receive 0.2 percent of the awards. It is imperative for HBCUs to seek funding from these particular categories, because this is where the overwhelming majority of funds are allocated through NSF. By continuously applying within the two areas HBCUs will gain partnership within NSF, allowing for better comprehension of the language, day to day operations, and goals of NSF, this should prove to be advantageous in the funding application process.

The WHIHBCUs should frequently provide reports such as this, which has information regarding the agency’s HBCU liaison, background facts, funding trends, existing HBCU relationships, and agency emphasis. The WHIHBCUs is here to work with Federal partners to provide technical support to HBCUs who are interested in applying for funding. HBCUs should develop their institutional capacity to produce competitive grants. Members of Congress can help HBCUs to network with key personnel at federal agencies. Members can also help HBCUs connect with corporate and philanthropic partners to strengthen collaborative efforts.

List of Program and Program Directors

Contact specific directorate of interest


Ivory A. Toldson, Ph.D., is the interim executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. He is currently on leave from his position as associate professor at Howard University.

DeShawn Preston is a doctoral student in Higher Educational Leadership at Clemson University. He holds a B.A. in History from Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama. His research agenda focuses on African American students in graduate and professional programs. More specifically his dissertation topic examines the roll/influences HBCUs play in assisting African Americans with enrollment into doctoral programs.

Funding Opportunities- June

Department of Education: First in the World Competition

The First In The World program is designed to support the development, replication, and dissemination of innovative solutions and evidence for what works in addressing persistent and widespread challenges in postsecondary education for students who are at risk for not persisting in and completing postsecondary programs, including, but not limited to, adult learners, working students, part-time students, students from low-income backgrounds, students of color, students with disabilities, and first-generation students. Learn more.

Department of Agriculture: Farmers’ Market SNAP Support Grants

The United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) announces, through this Request for Applications, the availability of $3.3 million in competitive grant funds, to be awarded through the Farmers’ Market SNAP Support Grants in fiscal year (FY) 2015. As approved by Congress in the President’s FY 2014 budget request for FNS, these funds are intended to support “the participation of farmers’ markets in SNAP by providing equipment and support grants to new markets and those currently participating in the program.” The goals of the FMSSG program are to increase SNAP accessibility and participation at farmers’ markets, and support the establishment, expansion, and promotion of SNAP/Electronic Benefits Transfer services at farmers’ markets. This is a new program, which may continue in subsequent years. Grant funds must be used to conduct tasks that are necessary for SNAP to operate at farmers’ markets, and to increase the number and effectiveness of farmers’ market participation in SNAP. Read more.

Department of Health and Human Services: New Pathways for Fathers and Families

The Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance is announcing its intent to competitively award demonstration projects that support activities promoting responsible fatherhood as enacted by the Claims Resolution Act of 2010. The Responsible Fatherhood initiative is designed to help fathers establish or strengthen positive parental interaction by providing activities that develop and improve relationship, communication and parenting skills, and contribute to the financial well-being of their children by providing job training and other employment services. Responsible Fatherhood activities also help fathers improve relationships with their spouses, significant others, and/or the mothers of their children. ACF is particularly interested in organizations that have the capacity and proven record of accomplishment in helping low-income fathers, and comprehensive fatherhood programs that integrate robust economic stability services, healthy marriage and relationship activities, and activities designed to foster responsible parenting. Learn more.

For more opportunities, please visit Grants.gov

Now Open: 2015 HBCU Week Conference Website

The 2015 HBCU Week Conference website is now open.

2015 HBCU Week Conference

HBCUs Innovators for Future Success

The Annual National Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) Week Conference is planned under the leadership of the White House Initiative on HBCUs and with input from the President’s Board of Advisors on HBCUs and its conference sponsors. It provides a forum to exchange information and share innovations among and between institutions. Stakeholders, which include: federal agencies, private sector companies and philanthropic organizations) provide an overview of successful engagements that if replicated could improve instruction, degree completion and the understanding of federal policies that shape and support higher education.

General registration will open on June 1, 2015.


 

Name Phone Email Role
ED color Conference Policy and Operations special.events@ed.gov Registration Questions
HBCU_Final Logo 2014-01ANW Conference Support Staff 202-453-5634 oswhi-hbcu@ed.gov Program Questions

Now Accepting: 2015 HBCU All-Star Program Applications, Deadline: June 17, 2015

The White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) works to promote HBCU excellence, innovation, and sustainability. The Initiative recognizes undergraduate, graduate, and professional students for their accomplishments in scholarship, leadership, and civic engagement.

Are you a student who wants to impact your HBCU campus and community?

2015 HBCU All Star Application Form

PROGRAM DETAILS

The appointment period will last approximately one year, and during this time students will serve as ambassadors of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities by providing outreach opportunities and communications to their fellow students about the value of education and the Initiative as a networking resource. Through social media, personal and professional relationships with community-based organizations, student will share promising and proven practices that support opportunities for all young people to realize their educational and career potential. The program will provide an opportunity to participate in regional and national events, as well as, web chats with Initiative staff and other professionals from a wide range of disciplines that support a spirit of engagement and personal and professional development.

 

ELIGIBILITY AND RULES

  1. Nominee must be a current undergraduate, graduate, or professional student at a Historically Black College or University (HBCU). Student must be enrolled for the 2015-2016 fall semester. View HBCU Listing by State
  2. Only complete applications will be accepted. This includes signed nomination form, unofficial transcripts, short essays, resume and endorsement letter. Review Process
  3. Submissions entered past the due date will not be acknowledged.

 

For more information regarding the 2015 HBCU All-Star Student program and application contact:

oswhi-hbcu@ed.gov and follow us on Twitter @WHI_HBCUs