NASA Astrobiology Minority Institution Research Support (MIRS) Program
January 14, 2015
The goal of the MIRS Program is to help train a new generation of researchers in astrobiology and to increase diversity within the astrobiology community. Over the past ten years, the program has provided opportunities for faculty members and students from minority-serving institutions to partner with astrobiology investigators.
One of the program’s main objectives is to engage more faculty from under-represented schools in astrobiology research and increase the number of students pursuing careers in astrobiology.
In FY 2012, the nation’s 105 HBCUs received a total of $4,794,956,403 in federal financial assistance from 22 of 32 reporting federal departments and agencies through contracts, grants, federal student financial aid (including federal student loans), and other educational assistance programs. Click here for the full report.
My Brother’s Keeper Task Force: One-Year Progress Report to the President
On February 27, 2014, President Barack Obama launched “My Brother’s Keeper” (MBK) and issued a powerful call to action to close opportunity gaps still faced by too many young people, and often by boys and young men of color in particular. The President’s announcement encouraged candid dialogues around the country and a greater sense of responsibility among community leaders, and young people themselves to put all youth in a position to thrive, regardless of their race, gender, or socioeconomic status. Over the course of the past year, efforts have advanced along three areas of focus based on the goals laid out in the MBK Presidential Memorandum: state and local engagement, private sector action – independent nonprofit, philanthropic and corporate action; and Public Policy review and reform. The report being released today provides an update on all three approaches over the course of a year since the MBK launch. You can find the full report HERE.
State and Local Engagement: The MBK Community Challenge
Since late September 2014, nearly 200 mayors, tribal leaders, and county executives across 43 states and the District of Columbia have accepted the MBK Community Challenge in partnership with more than 2,000 individual community-based allies. These “MBK Communities” are working with leading experts in youth and community development to design and implement cradle-to-college-and-career action plans. Within six months of accepting the Challenge, MBK Communities commit to review local public policy, host action summits, and start implementing their locally tailored action plans to address opportunity gaps. MBK Communities are provided with technical assistance to develop, implement and track plans of action from both federal agencies and independent organizations with related expertise.
The nation’s five largest cities: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Philadelphia.
Small cities and towns, including Prichard, AL, Berea, OH, Carlisle, PA, Holly Hill, SC, and Ranson, WV.
Cities with some of the highest African American populations, including Detroit, Birmingham and Washington, DC.
Cities with some of the highest Hispanic populations, including San Francisco, Dallas, Miami and Phoenix.
Seventeen Tribal Nations, including the Cherokee, Cheyenne River, Hoonah and Navajo tribal nations.
Private-Sector Action: Business, Philanthropy and Nonprofit Action
Foundations, businesses, and social enterprises have responded to the President’s call to action by taking steps to ensure that communities have the support they need and by providing funding and advice for aligned national initiatives. More than $300 million in grants and in-kind resources have been independently committed already to advance the mission of MBK, including investments in safe and effective schools, mentoring programs, juvenile justice reforms, and school redesign. For example, the Council of the Great City Schools (CGCS) is coordinating the leaders of 63 of the largest urban school systems in the country in a pledge to change life outcomes by better serving students at every stage of their education; Prudential announced a commitment of $13 million to support technical assistance for MBK Communities as well as impact investments for innovative for-profit and nonprofit social purpose enterprises that eliminate barriers to financial and social mobility; and on Christmas Day 2014, the NBA launched a public service announcement and campaign in partnership with MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership to recruit 25,000 new mentors over the next five years.
Policy: The Federal Response
The MBK Task Force, an interagency working group of representatives of over ten agencies across the Federal government, has encouraged and tracked implementation of the recommendations outlined in the initial 90-day report issued in May. Those efforts have led to greater focus on federal investments that support evidence-based interventions. For example, grant programs, like the Department of Labor’s American Apprenticeship Initiative and the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe, harness federal resources to create clearer pathways to success by helping youth build both work and life skills. Public-private partnerships like Youth Opportunity AmeriCorps, School Turnaround AmeriCorpsand 21st Century Conservation Service Corps are working with the Corporation for National and Community Service to engage underserved youth in service that has the potential to transform their lives and the communities they serve. Similarly, the Departments of Education and Justice issued Correctional Education guidance to help to ensure that incarcerated youth have the full protection of existing laws and benefits. The federal government has also advanced its efforts to track quality data for boys and young men of color and their peers.
Through MBK, this Administration will continue to improve transparency and accountability to address persistent opportunity gaps at every level and improve outcomes for all young people to ensure they have the opportunity to succeed.
Funded by the U.S. Department of Treasury for over 20 years, Community Development Financing Institutions (CDFIs) provide loans for startup and microenterprises, gap financing, and offer technical assistance. The nationwide CDFI Program invests in and builds the capacity of small and minority-owned businesses supporting business grow, sustainability, and community revitalization.
On Wednesday, March 4th the Opportunity Finance Network, a leading national network of CDFIs, will discuss the different lending options and how they help businesses access responsible and affordable capital. Since 2011, their network has originated more than $30 billion in financing in urban, rural, and Native communities.
Don’t miss out on this opportunity to learn how CDFIs can be an alternative lending source for your business.
The SA Program supports short-term study and travel abroad for U.S. educators for the purpose of improving their understanding and knowledge of the peoples and cultures of other countries. The program is open to U.S. educators and administrators at the K-12 level. For the Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 competition, we are offering a seminar to China, administered through a contractual agreement with the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations (NCUSCR).
White House Honors Historically Black Colleges and Universities “Champions of Change”
WASHINGTON, DC – On February 24, the White House will recognize faculty and staff members at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) as “Champions of Change” who are finding success promoting college completion and success. These leaders have worked with students, families, and policymakers to build pathways to graduation at their respective institutions. The event will feature a panel discussion moderated by actor and E! News Co-Host, Terrence Jenkins, remarks from Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx.
The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities. The event is closed to press but will be live streamed on the White House website. To watch this event live, visit >www.whitehouse.gov/live< on February 24, at 10:00AM. To learn more about the White House Champions of Change program, visit >www.whitehouse.gov/champions<. Follow the conversation at #HBCUchamps.
Deloris Alexander, Ph.D., Auburn Alabama
Deloris Alexander, Ph.D., serves as Director of the Integrative Biosciences PhD Program at Tuskegee University. This program facilitates the progression of talented, motivated students from the collegiate through doctorate level to careers in the professorate and other areas. A second-generation college graduate and the second person in her family to receive a PhD degree, Dr. Alexander is also a collaborator on several federally-funded projects involving graduate and undergraduate education, especially initiatives meant to increase access to education for socioeconomically-deprived students. She also leads programs designed to increase both diversity and America’s competitiveness in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields.
Dr. Abayomi Ajayi-Majebi, serves as a Professor of Manufacturing Engineering and Past Chairman of the Manufacturing Engineering Department undergraduate program at Central State University (CSU). Over the past 30 years, he has supported hundreds of CSU Manufacturing Engineers, CSU STEM students, and CSU graduates, leading to their gainful employment in the U.S. and around the world.
Frank A. James, Little Rock, Arkansas
Frank James is a Professor of Mathematics at Philander Smith College a small Methodist institution located in Little Rock, Arkansas. He was the Vice President for Academic Affairs at Philander Smith College from 2006-2013. He also serves as the Principal Investigator for a National Science Foundation (NSF) Implementation Grant [2012-2017]. He mentors students interested in becoming Engineers through a 3/2 joint MOU with the University of Arkansas and Philander Smith College.
Freddie T. Vaughns, Ph.D., Bowie, Maryland
Freddie T. Vaughns, Ph.D., currently serves as Assistant Vice President of Academic Affairs for Bowie State University, one of the oldest historically black universities in the nation and the oldest in the state of Maryland. In his capacity he works with and advises the Provost on student concerns ranging from academic difficulties to retention and graduation efforts. Also, he is tenured faculty in the Child and Adolescent Studies program, preparing graduates to make significant contributions in the global community.
Gregory Goins, Ph.D., Greensboro, North Carolina
Dr. Goinsis an Associate Professor of Biology at North Carolina A&T State University where he organized the Integrative Biomathematical Learning and Empowerment Network for Diversity (iBLEND). The iBLEND initiative represents a partnership between faculty mentors from various science, mathematics, and engineering disciplines working together to retain undergraduates in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). In addition, iBLEND mentors help students prepare for future post-graduate opportunities and careers primarily at the interface between biology and mathematics. Since 2010, over 100 undergraduates from North Carolina A&T State University have completed research internships collaborating with iBLEND.
Herbert W. Thompson, Ph.D., Daytona Beach, Florida
Dr. Herbert W. Thompson is a tenured professor of Biology and Dean of the College of Science, Engineering, and Mathematics (CSEM) at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida. Under Dr. Thompson’s leadership, the CSEM, which is organized into five departments offering curricula for Baccalaureate Degrees, recently assessed each program to insure that graduates have the knowledge to solve real world problems. A strong student advocate, Dr. Thompson continues to mentor students and faculty. Over the years he has guided many to careers in medicine, STEM research and STEM education. Prior to his appointment as Dean, he served as Chair of the Department of Biology and Project Director of the Health Careers Opportunity Program at Bethune-Cookman.
J.K. Haynes, Atlanta, Georgia
J.K. Haynes is the David Packard Professor of Science and Dean of Science and Mathematics at Morehouse College, in Atlanta, Georgia. For over 36 years, he has served as a research scientist, professor and administrator at the College. During this time, he has led numerous efforts to enrich the curriculum and to provide engaging extra-curricula experiences for STEM students as well as to increase the number of STEM graduates of the College.
Rennae Elliott, Ph.D., Huntsville, Alabama
Rennae Elliott, Ph.D., currently serves as the Chairperson and an Associate Professor of the Communication Department at Oakwood University in Huntsville, AL. In addition to classroom teaching and academic advising, Dr. Elliott serves as coach of Oakwood’s Honda Campus All Star Challenge (HCASC) team, a post she’s held for over 17 years. Influenced by her mentoring and advising, the team has won two championships and placed in the top four on five occasions. In 2014, HCASC named her Coach of the Year. Dr. Elliott’s committee posts include the University’s Quality Enhancement Plan, Rank and Continuous Appointment, and the Dean’s Council.
Robert A. Johnson, Jr., Ph.D, Princess Anne, Maryland
Robert A. Johnson, Jr., Ph.D. serves as the Chair of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) in Princess Anne, Maryland. UMES is a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) and 1890 Land Grant Institution dedicated to providing educational programs for aspiring students. Dr. Johnson has centered his professional efforts on identifying, securing, and establishing resources that create awareness and stimulate interests in the vast opportunities that exist in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields. He and a team of faculty members have secured over $3,000,000 in federal, state, and industry funds to aid students in completing financial obligations related to collegiate study, gateway course completion, completing intense research projects, and matriculation to graduation. In addition, Dr. Johnson served, from 1999-2009, as the Director of the UMES Summer Transportation Institute, supported through funds provided from the U.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway Administration. The program assisted over 200 high school students in honing essential academic and social skills necessary for successful entry into collegiate environments and matriculation through STEM disciplines.
Tanya V. Rush, Baltimore, Maryland
Tanya V. Rush, serves as the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland. Representing the Vice President in various capacities and special projects, her primary responsibilities include oversight for the Division’s fiscal affairs and providing direct oversight to the directors of the University Health Center, Student Center/Student Activities, and the University Chapel. Always willing to serve, Tanya volunteers her time with numerous university committees and worthwhile community activities. But her greatest joy is her service to students, undergraduate and graduate. She is student-centered, dedicated to student development and success – academically, personally and professionally.
Dr. Tommie “Tonea” Stewart is a native of Greenwood, Mississippi and is a child of the civil rights movement. She is a professional actress; motivational speaker, theatre director, national museum exhibit director, tenured professor, and Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Alabama State University. Dean Stewart is a graduate of Jackson State University (B.S.), the University of California at Santa Barbara (M.A.), and Florida State University with a Ph.D. in Theatre. Stewart was the first African American female to receive a doctorate from the FSU school of Theatre and the first McKnight Doctoral Fellow in Theatre Arts. She isa New York World Festival Gold Medal Award winner for the narration of Public Radio International’s series “Remembering Slavery.” She holds four honorary doctorates degrees and is a life member of the NAACP, Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority.
Recently, President Obama unveiled a proposal to offer free community college tuition for all Americans who maintain a 2.5 GPA, and make steady progress toward completing their program. Today, community colleges educate more African American undergraduate students than any other higher education provider. So, this policy can lead to significant increases in the number of students who transfer to four-year Historically Black Colleges and Universities, or HBCUs, including many students who had not been accepted for first-time admission to a four-year college.
Currently, twelve of the 100 Title IV participating HBCUs are community colleges and would benefit directly from President Obama’s America’s College Promise proposal. These colleges are: Bishop State Community College (AL); Gadsden State Community College (AL); H Councill Trenholm State Technical College (AL); Hinds Community College (MS); J F Drake State Community and Technical College (AL); Lawson State Community College-Birmingham Campus (AL); Shelton State Community College (AL); Southern University at Shreveport (LA); Coahoma Community College (MS); Denmark Technical College (SC); St Philip’s College (TX); and Shorter College (AR).
However, four-year HBCUs have as much to gain from the America’s College Promise as community colleges. Today, community colleges educate a large number of students who could not otherwise gain admissions to four-year HBCUs due to new, tougher admissions criteria at many colleges and universities. Over the last ten years, state laws or board policies have restricted admissions at traditional four-year colleges, including state HBCUs, based on the premise that less academically prepared students should start their postsecondary experience at a community college. These changes range from setting a minimum ACT or SAT requirement for public universities, to prohibiting public four-year colleges from offering remedial classes. According to The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, 65 of the 100 HBCUs that qualify for Federal Student Financial Aid have selective admissions, while the remaining 34 campuses have open admissions. Only 4 of the 34 open admissions HBCUs are 4-year public institutions.
The America’s College Promise proposal can supplement the changes already occurring at four-year HBCUs by covering the cost of tuition during the years that students are receiving remedial developmental education. In addition, the proposal would require states to maintain or increase existing higher education investments, as a condition of participating in this historic federal program. This means the Administration’s proposal would both supplement state higher education budgets and safeguard state HBCUs from budget cuts.
Finally, the America’s College Promise proposal can inspire more articulation agreements between HBCUs and community colleges, and possibly expand out-of-state enrollment at HBCUs. Twenty U.S. states and one U.S. territory are home to HBCUs. However, even states with no HBCUs recognize the potential of these unique and distinguished institutions to provide support to Black community college transfer students. For example, the California Community Colleges system has taken a historic step towards advancing transfer partnerships with HBCUs though a memorandum of understanding, which will be ceremonially signed by selected HBCU presidents at the California Community Colleges Board of Governors meeting in Sacramento.
In short, the America’s College Promise proposal would help to complement and strengthen the efforts of America’s HBCUs, by: providing direct support to the 12 percent of HBCUs that are community colleges; mitigating selective admissions requirements by providing free developmental support to students that four-year HBCUs may have initially been required to reject; and supporting and expanding articulation agreements between HBCUs and community colleges across the nation.
America’s College Promise is a win-win for community colleges and HBCUs — and for the nation’s students.
Ivory A. Toldson, Ph.D., was appointed by President Barack Obama to be the deputy 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. He is also contributing educational editor for The Root. Follow him on twitter @toldson.
Vice President Biden Announces$25 Million in Funding for Cybersecurity Education at HBCUs
Today, Vice President Biden, Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, and White House Science Advisor John Holdren are traveling to Norfolk State University in Norfolk, Virginia to announce that the Department of Energy will provide a $25 million grant over the next five years to support cybersecurity education. The new grant will support the creation of a new cybersecurity consortium consisting of 13 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), two national labs, and a k-12 school district.
The Vice President will make the announcement as part of a roundtable discussion with a classroom of cybersecurity leaders and students at Norfolk State University. The visit builds on the President’s announcements on cybersecurity earlier this week, focusing on the critical need to fill the growing demand for skilled cybersecurity professionals in the U.S. job market, while also diversifying the pipeline of talent in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. The event and announcement is also an opportunity to highlight the Administration’s ongoing commitment to HBCUs.
Details on the Announcement
As highlighted by the President earlier in the week, the rapid growth of cybercrime is creating a growing need for cybersecurity professionals across a range of industries, from financial services, health care, and retail to the US government itself. By some estimates, the demand for cybersecurity workers is growing 12 times faster than the U.S. job market, and is creating well-paying jobs.
To meet this growing need, the Department of Energy is establishing the Cybersecurity Workforce Pipeline Consortium with funding from the Minority Serving Institutions Partnerships Program housed in its National Nuclear Security Administration. The Minority Service Institutions Program focuses on building a strong pipeline of talent from minority-serving institutions to DOE labs, with a mix of research collaborations, involvement of DOE scientists in mentoring, teaching and curriculum development, and direct recruitment of students.
With $25M in overall funding over five years, and with the first grants this year, the Cybersecurity Workforce Pipeline Consortium will bring together 13 HBCUs, two DOE labs, and the Charleston County School District with the goal of creating a sustainable pipeline of students focused on cybersecurity issues. The consortium has a number of core attributes:
It is designed as asystem. This allows students that enter through any of the partner schools to have all consortia options available to them, to create career paths and degree options through collaboration between all the partners (labs and schools), and to open the doors to DOE sites and facilities.
It has a range of participating higher education institutions.With Norfolk State University as a the lead, the consortium includes a K-12 school district, a two-year technical college, as well as four-year public and private universities that offer graduate degrees.
Built to change to evolving employer needs:To be successful in the long term, this program is designed to be sufficiently flexible in its organization to reflect the unique regional priorities that Universities have in faculty research and developing STEM disciplines and skills, and DOE site targets for research and critical skill development.
Diversifying the pipeline by working with leading minority-serving institutions:As the President stated in Executive Order 13532, “Promoting Excellence, Innovation, and Sustainability at Historically Black Colleges and Universities” in February 2010, America’s HBCUs, for over 150 years, have produced many of the Nation’s leaders in science, business, government, academia, and the military, and have provided generations of American men and women with hope and educational opportunity.
The full list of participating consortium members are:
FACT SHEET & REPORT: Opportunity for All: My Brother’s Keeper Blueprint for Action
The My Brother’s Keeper Task Force Report to the President can be found HERE.
Over the past five years, the hard work and grit of the American people pulled our economy back from the brink of collapse. We are now moving forward again. But there is more work to do, and for decades opportunity has lagged behind for some, including millions of boys and young men of color. Boys of color are too often born into poverty and live with a single parent. And while their gains contributed to the national high school graduation rate reaching an all-time high, in some school districts dropout rates remain high. Too many of these boys and young men will have negative interactions with the juvenile and criminal justice system, and the dream of a college education is within grasp for too few. Our society can and will do more to help remove barriers to all young people’s success, because America prospers not only when hard work and responsibility are rewarded but also when we all pull forward together.
Rebuilding that core American value—community—is why the President launched My Brother’s Keeper, an initiative designed to determine what works to help young people stay on track to reach their full potential.
The Administration is doing its part by identifying programs and policies that work, and recommending action that will help all our young people succeed. Since the launch of My Brother’s Keeper, the President’s Task Force has met with and heard from thousands of Americans, through online and in-person listening sessions, who are already taking action. Cities and towns, businesses, foundations, faith leaders and individuals have made commitments to helping youth get a strong start in school and life and later connect them to mentoring, support networks and specialized skills they need to find a good job or go to college and work their way up into the middle class. As President Obama has said, “We are stronger when America fields a full team.”
Today, the President met with his Cabinet to discuss the Task Force’s initial assessments and recommendations and the President called on the American people to get engaged through mentorship opportunities nationwide.
Call to Action
The President is calling on Americans interested in getting involved in My Brother’s Keeper to sign up as long-term mentors to young people at WH.gov/mybrotherskeeper. This effort will engage Americans from all walks of life to sign up to develop sustained and direct mentoring relationships that will play vital roles in the lives of young people.
It is important that all children have caring adults who are engaged in their lives. But too many young people lack this support. For example, roughly two-thirds of Black and one-third of Hispanic children live with only one parent. Moreover, research suggests that a father’s absence increases the risk of his child dropping out of school among Blacks and Hispanics by 75 percent and 96 percent respectively. We see significant high school dropout rates—as high as 50 percent in some school districts—including among boys and young men from certain Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander populations. And some 27 percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives live in poverty, compared to 11.6% of White Americans.
Presidential Task Force 90-Day Report
As part of its 90-day report, the Task Force has identified a set of initial recommendations to the President, and a blueprint for action by government, business, non-profit, philanthropic, faith and community partners.
In developing its recommendations, the Task Force identified key milestones in the path to adulthood that are especially predictive of later success, and where interventions can have the greatest impact:
Getting a healthy start and entering school ready to learn;
Reading by third grade;
Graduating from high school ready for college and career;
Completing post-secondary education or training;
Entering the workforce;
Keeping kids on track and giving them second chances.
By focusing on these key moments, and helping our young people avoid roadblocks that hinder progress across life stages, we can help ensure that all children and young people have the tools they need to build successful lives. Focused on areas of action that can improve outcomes at these key moments, the President’s Task Force today presented him with recommendations including:
Launch a public-private campaign to actively recruit mentors for youth and improve the quality of mentoring programs.
Make the status and progress of boys and young men of color and other populations more visible by improving data collection and transparency.
A Healthy Start and Ready for School
Eliminate suspensions and expulsions in preschool and other early learning settings.
Reading at Grade Level by the End of Third Grade
Close the word gap by launching a public and private initiative to increase joint and independent reading time outside of school and build a reading culture in more homes.
Graduating from High School
Increase focus on transforming the schools and districts producing the majority of the country’s dropouts.
Completing Post-Secondary Education or Training
Increase college completion by expanding students’ access to and successful completion of rigorous courses, such as Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and dual enrollment options in high school.
Entering the Workforce
Increase awareness about youth summer employment and use of pre-apprenticeships as good entry-level jobs.
Reducing Violence and Providing a Second Chance
Institutionalize community oriented policing practices in the field and employ methods to address racial and ethnic bias within the juvenile and criminal justice systems.
The recommendations identified by the President’s Task Force mark the starting point of what must and will be a long-term effort. The Task Force and public, private and philanthropic actors will continue to develop recommendations and support community solutions well beyond this 90-day progress report.
In addition to today’s announcements, in coming weeks and months, leading foundations will independently announce specific commitments to help ensure young people can succeed. The following foundations will together seek to invest at least $200 million: The Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Atlantic Philanthropies, Bloomberg Philanthropies, The California Endowment, The Ford Foundation, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Open Society Foundations, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, The Kapor Center for Social Impact, and the Nathan Cummings Foundation.