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July 15, 2014

Lupe Flores

HACU focuses on increasing Hispanic participation in STEM

At the end of last year, HACU announced the formation of a HACU science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) Task Force to provide advice on how to best approach policy and practice issues in increasing Hispanic participation in STEM. Since then, HACU has continued placing emphasis on its STEM initiative.

HACU President and CEO Antonio R. Flores and Chief
Advocacy Officer Luis Maldonado recently met with the Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) France A. Córdova, Ph.D., and Assistant Director of Education and Human Resources at NSF Joan Ferrini-Mundy, Ph.D., to discuss ways to increase the number of Hispanics in STEM careers, starting at the K-12 level, through higher education and into the workforce.

Between 2010 and 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor projects that Hispanics will account for 74 percent of the labor growth in the U.S., urgently requiring accelerated STEM education support for the nation to meet the employment needs of tomorrow.

Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) currently lack an institutional development grant program at NSF. For the first time, the Obama Administration described its intent to create an HSI-specific program at NSF in its FY 2015 proposed budget, but only for two-year institutions, representing less than half of all HSIs. Less than 20 percent of HSIs received NSF grants in 2011-2102, equating to only 2.8 percent or $145 million awarded out of $5.23 billion to all institutions of higher education.

HACU continues to urge NSF to develop a targeted program open to all HSIs, especially those enrolling large numbers of low-income students, with limited STEM academic offerings and STEM-specific infrastructure, or that are committed to collaborating with local schools and institutions on STEM programming and offerings.

“HSIs that enroll Hispanic students and are committed to partnerships that advance STEM initiatives stand to gain the most from NSF funding and can have the biggest impact on Hispanic participation in STEM,”  said HACU President and CEO Antonio R. Flores. “This is funding that has already been authorized in Section 7033 of the America COMPETES Act, but has yet to be implemented.”

HACU is hopeful the current leaders of NSF will be much more responsive to the need for increased STEM education support at HSIs. Director Córdova is president emerita of Purdue University; was chancellor of the University of California, Riverside; and was vice chancellor for research at the University of California, Santa Barbara, all HACU-member institutions. Assistant Director Ferrini-Mundy was a university distinguished professor of mathematics education in the departments of mathematics and teacher education at Michigan State University, also a HACU-member institution.

Related:

3/21/2014 - Latino students participate in HACU STEM Summit at CSUF

4/7/2014 - Hispanic graduates in STEM fields discussed at the opening of the HACU Capitol Forum

4/2/2014 - HACU supports U.S. News STEM Solutions