Alexandria, Va. — The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded a $294,500 grant to support a pilot program sponsored by the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). The project will be implemented by the 50K Coalition, a 40-organization collaborative formed by the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES), NSBE, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) and the Society of Women Engineers (SWE).

The grant program, named NSF INCLUDES (Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science), is designed to increase the representation of four groups in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and careers: women; members of racial and ethnic groups that have been underrepresented in STEM; persons with low socioeconomic status; and individuals with disabilities. The goal of NSF INCLUDES overlaps greatly with the goal of the 50K Coalition, which is to increase the number of engineering bachelor’s degrees awarded to women and underrepresented minorities in the U.S. from 30,000 annually to 50,000 annually by 2025 — a 66 percent increase.

“The 50K Coalition is delighted to receive this award, not only because of the opportunity it presents to further our work but also because it validates our model of collaboration to increase diversity in engineering,” said NSBE Executive Director Karl W. Reid, Ed.D., a member of the coalition’s Leadership Circle.

“This award represents a big step forward for NSBE,” said NSBE National Chair Matthew C. Nelson. “Partnerships like this, joining government, the private sector, academia and nonprofit organizations, will be essential in achieving the goal of the 50K Coalition as well as NSBE’s goal of moving African Americans beyond parity in engineering. NSBE’s National Executive Board congratulates the 50K Coalition for this successful result of its work.”

Dr. Reid is principal investigator of the project being funded by NSF INCLUDES, which is titled “Increasing Degrees Awarded to African American, Hispanic, Native American and Women Students in Engineering.” Barry Cordero, interim CEO of SHPE; Sarah Echohawk, CEO of AISES; and Karen Horting, executive director and CEO of SWE, are the co-principal investigators. To reach its goal of 50,000 diverse engineering graduates annually, the 50K Coalition is working in six areas: undergraduate support and retention; public awareness of the nation’s engineering workforce needs and challenges; support of students in grades K–12; community college linkages; university culture and climate; and funding and financial support. The coalition is using shared metrics to track its progress in AP calculus completion and high school graduation rates; undergraduate freshmen retention rates; community college transfer rates and number of engineering degrees awarded.

The NSF selected the 50K Coalition’s “launch pilot” project this year as one of 37 “that represent bold, innovative ways for solving a broadening participation challenge in STEM.” Five successful projects will be selected next year to participate in the next phase, NSF INCLUDES Alliances, which will provide up to $2.5 million per alliance per year for up to five years, to build on the activities started by the launch pilots this fiscal year.