Introducing the “Champions of Diversity” in the Academic Kickoff issue proved a timely reminder of the mission of Diverse during the lead-up to the 25th anniversary of Cox, Matthews and Associates, the founder of the former Black Issues in Higher Education and publisher of Diverse. In this edition, the editors at Diverse unveil its second slate of Champions, defining further the promise and vision committed organizations and individuals have put forth to bring about an inclusive U.S. society. By now, it’s more than clear that Champions bring diversity and excellence together as harmonious and complementary values. It should also be clear that Champions deserve recognition for the transformative and vital work that they do.
American Indian Science and Engineering Society
Founded in 1977, the American Indian Science and Engineering Society has substantially increased the representation of American Indian and Alaska Natives in engineering, science and related technology fields. Through a variety of educational programs, AISES offers financial, academic and cultural support to this underrepresented group from middle school through graduate school. AISES currently has over 160 college chapters nationwide, including 23 at tribal colleges. The organization administers five distinct scholarships, provides internship opportunities for college students at a variety of agencies, offers professional development activities for teachers and develops culturally appropriate curricula and publications. To achieve its goals AISES builds partnerships with tribes, schools, other nonprofit organizations, corporations, foundations and government agencies.
The Civil Rights Project
Founded in 1996 at Harvard University, The Civil Rights Project is a multidisciplinary research-and-policy think tank dedicated to social justice. Initially focused on education reform, the CRP has convened numerous national conferences, issued an abundance of reports on desegregation and commissioned in excess of 400 research and policy studies revolving around diversity in education. Most notably, CRP work was cited by Supreme Court justices in a landmark 2003 ruling upholding affirmative action in college admissions. Last year, the CRP moved to the University of California, Los Angeles, and adopted a new name, becoming The Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles, expanding its focus to include immigration and language policy issues.
CUNY Black Male Initiative
New York City officials, including the City University of New York (CUNY) chancellor, in 2004 expanded an effort originated at the Medgar Evers College campus to help retain and graduate Black male students. Since then, CUNY’s 17 colleges and the Graduate Center have received funds to develop demonstration projects to improve the enrollment and graduation rates of students from underrepresented groups, particularly Black males.
In support of improving retention and graduation rates, the initiative has focused on action-oriented projects to help Black males improve academic performance in the K-12 system, boost college enrollment and reduce high rates of joblessness and incarceration.
Gates Millennium Scholars Program
Established in 1999, the Gates Millennium Scholars Program provides annual scholarships for high-achieving minority students to attend college. The scholarship program, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is a $1 billion, 20-year project that seeks to secure access to higher education for underrepresented groups. Since its inception, the GMSP has funded more than 12,000 Gates Millennium Scholars and graduated 3,912. GMSP aims to increase the number of underrepresented minorities in the fields of engineering, library science and mathematics, among others. Contrary to scholarships that offer only undergraduate support, GMSP provides seamless support for its scholars from undergraduate school through doctoral programs.
Latin American School of Medical Sciences
In 2007, eight Americans from minority backgrounds graduated from a Cuban medical school. The students began their studies in April 2001, forming the first class of American graduates from the Latin American School of Medical Sciences (LASMS). The eight Americans were among more than 2,100 graduates who received medical degrees from the school free of charge. The six-year program, which is administered through the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO), is divided into 12 semesters and begins every September. Students study at LASMS for two years and then continue their medical studies at one of Cuba’s regional medical schools. All classes are taught in Spanish. LASMS enrolls more than 3,000 students from 23 countries around the world.
Leadership Education and Development
Since 1980, the Philadelphia-based Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) program has provided intensive learning summer experiences for high school students interested in business careers. Largely targeted to underrepresented minorities going into their senior year of high school, the program counts more than 7,500 alumni, 65 percent of whom are pursuing a business career. The LEAD Summer Business Institutes (SBIs) are held at the campuses of 10 top business schools.
This past summer, LEAD launched a summer engineering program modeled after its summer business institutes. LEAD officials say the engineering program initiative represents a natural development for the organization, given that 22 percent of its summer business institute participants had pursued engineering degrees.
Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation Program (LSAMP) In 1991, the National Science Foundation launched the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program, whose mission is to boost both the number and academic performance of underrepresented minorities seeking science, technology, engineering and mathematics baccalaureates. To this end, NSF funds the LSAMP program in five-year phases from $300,000 to $1 million, and these funds support 39 state and regional LSAMP Alliances involving over 500 institutions. Overall, more than 300,000 minority students have participated in LSAMP programs, and in the 2005-2006 academic year, 25,309 LSAMP students graduated with a STEM-related baccalaureate degree. In 2003, LSAMP launched a Bridge to the Doctorate Initiative that has supported approximately 1,000 minority STEM graduate students at 42 universities.
NACME/SECME Inc./MESA USA
These three organizations together represent the longest-running higher education-based efforts to attract and support underrepresented minorities in the pursuit of engineering education and other science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Backed by considerable corporate support, the National Action Council of Minorities in Engineering (NACME), Southeastern Consortium for Minorities in Engineering (SECME), and Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement (MESA) USA were each organized during the 1970s and have evolved to conduct extensive outreach and STEM program development with K-12 school systems and organizations.
Each organization coordinates scholarship, K-12 pre-college, and academic mentoring programs that reach into hundreds of communities and extends programs to dozens of colleges and universities.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Among federal agencies, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) stands out for its outreach to underrepresented minorities and minority-serving institutions. While NASA has long focused on education program development for engaging and retaining students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines, its programs include extensive arrangements with schools, organizations and institutions that serve populations with significant minority representation. Among these entities are Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, and groups such as the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering and the Society for Professional Hispanic Engineers. NASA’s Office of Education provides funding for Minority University Research and Education Programs (MUREP) to increase the participation of minority-serving institutions in NASA research and development and to increase the number of minority students in STEM disciplines.
The Tomás Rivera Policy Institute
The Tomás Rivera Policy Institute is a nonprofit research organization that advances analysis on issues affecting Hispanic communities through objective, policy-driven research. TRPI examines timely issues such as education, political participation of ethnic minorities, information technology, access to health care, economic well-being, media and immigration. In the last 20 years, TRPI has released more than 200 research reports and policy briefs. In 2003, TRPI founded the Center for Latino Health Policy to better inform policymakers and stakeholders about issues that can improve health outcomes and quality of life in the Hispanic community. Three years later, the organization implemented a multifaceted “college knowledge” campaign that bridges college information gaps among Hispanic parents and students. This campaign included a two-segment news series, aired by MTV networks.
— Reported and written by By Michelle J. Nealy, David Pluviose and Ronald Roach
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