10 Historically Black Colleges, Universities Awarded STEM Capacity Building Grants


Through a $1.5 million grant from the Helmsley Charitable Trust, the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions is awarding ten $50,000 grants to Historically Black Colleges and Universities to bolster STEM capacity. In addition, the 10 HBCUs will participate in a three-year research project pertaining to STEM education, with the ultimate goal of improving STEM capacity among African Americans and other under-represented students.

Applicant institutions hailed from 12 different states and varied in institutional control (i.e. public vs. private), religious affiliation, and enrollment size. Moreover, they each presented several practices and programs that have improved students’ achievements in STEM. The selection process included several rounds of deliberation between the co-principal investigators, as well as some members of the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions Advisory Board. First, applicants needed to demonstrate strong, empirical evidence that their practice or program had a substantial and positive influence on student achievement in STEM gateway courses. Second, applicants had to present a feasible and compelling project for the capacity building grant. The most innovative projects progressed to the final round. And third, the selection team took into account variation across the STEM disciplines. 

HBCUs receiving $50,000 STEM capacity building grants include:

  • North Carolina Central University
  • Morgan State University
  • Huston-Tillotson University
  • Prairie View A&M University
  • Lincoln University
  • Dillard University
  • Delaware State University
  • Cheyney University
  • Claflin University
  • Xavier University of Louisiana

Marybeth Gasman, professor in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania and director of the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions (CMSI) serves as the principal investigator of this project. Thai-Huy Nguyen, research assistant at the Penn CMSI and Ph.D. student serves as the co-principal investigator.

About the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions

The Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions brings together researchers and practitioners from across the spectrum of Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) to harness the collective strengths of the these institutions and to solve the challenges they face. An integral part of American higher education, MSIs include Historically Black Colleges and Universities; Tribal Colleges and Universities; Hispanic Serving Institutions; and Asian American, Native American, Pacific Islander Serving Institutions. Among the Center’s goals are to elevate the educational contributions of MSIs, ensuring their participation in national conversations; to increase rigorous scholarship on MSIs; and to bolster the efforts of MSIs to close educational achievement gaps and assessment performance of disadvantaged communities. The Center for Minority Serving Institutions is located at the University of Pennsylvania under the direction of Professor Marybeth Gasman.

About the Helmsley Charitable Trust

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust aspires to improve lives by supporting effective nonprofits in health, place-based initiatives, education and human services. Since 2008, when the Trust began its active grantmaking, it has committed more than $1 billion to a wide range of charitable organizations. Through its Education Program, the Trust views education as a lever to advance both American economic competitiveness and individual social mobility. In K-12, the Trust focuses on ensuring all students graduate high school prepared for college or careers by supporting teacher effectiveness and the adoption and implementation of high academic standards. In postsecondary education, the Trust is primarily interested in increasing the number of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) graduates who can participate in high growth sectors of the economy. The Trust also focuses on policy levers that improve postsecondary completion, particularly for underrepresented populations.

Contact CMSI staff at cmsi@gse.upenn.edu for more information on the project or the schools involved.