Today, House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Member Rep. Gwen Moore (WI-04) and Ranking Member Rep. Frank Lucas (OK-03) introduced the Strengthening MSI Competitiveness in Research and Innovation Act to diversify STEM education and workforce. The Act would allow historically black colleges and universities (HBCU’s), tribal colleges and universities, and other universities designated as minority serving institutions (MSI) such as Alverno college increased access federal resources  to expand research programs  in order to help create a more diverse STEM workforce.  The bill would also allow for those institutions to partner with other higher education institutions, including community colleges, to strengthen their research capacity. Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson is also a cosponsor of the legislation.

“Our research universities are the most advanced, well-funded and well-equipped in the world, yet our institutions still suffer dramatically low diversity among its researchers and staff. People of color are underrepresented in STEM jobs, which only reflects the systemic barriers that still exist in the classroom and the workplace. This not only limits the possibilities of some of our brightest minds, but also limits the ability of research teams to approach problems,” said Congresswoman Moore. “Grants and awards that are vital to the funding of developing universities require costly resources to obtain in the first place. This is a hurdle many developing MSIs, including HBCUs, tribal colleges, and Hispanic-serving institutions, must face in bringing people of color opportunities that are traditionally dominated by their white counterparts. That is why I’m proud to be introducing bipartisan legislation with Congressman Frank Lucas to combat this disparity head-on. By awarding competitive-based funding to developing MSIs that are expanding their STEM research capabilities, we can erode racial imbalances in education and research, and expand opportunities in science and technology for traditionally underrepresented people of color. Diversity makes our researchers better and our institutions stronger."

“MSIs and HBCUs have long carried out cutting-edge research and been leaders in ensuring a more diverse STEM talent pipeline for our nation’s future. However, more investment is needed to enable MSIs to fully realize their potential to contribute to the research and innovation enterprise. I am proud to cosponsor this bill led by my Science Committee colleagues Congresswoman Moore and Ranking Member Lucas to provide administrative support and boost the research capacity of our nation’s MSIs and HBCUs. The challenges we face today demand a dramatic expansion of our research capacity and STEM workforce. That starts with supporting the institutions that have a proven track record of recruiting and nurturing talented students and researchers of all races, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds,” said Chairwoman Johnson.

“America’s scientific progress is best served by encouraging a wide range of researchers from across the country, operating at diverse research institutions. But not every college and university has the same access to federal research grants. I’m proud to join Rep. Moore on this bill to ensure that Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Minority Serving Institutions, and Tribal Colleges and Universities are given the resources they need to compete for federal grants. Langston University, an 1890s institution in my home district in Oklahoma, is a great example of why this bill is needed: they have a strong research focus and a pool of talented students and professionals but need assistance building up their capacity to perform that research and compete for federal grants. I look forward to working with my colleagues to move this bill through Congress and give these universities the support they need to excel,” said Ranking Member Lucas.

The bill would authorize $100 million per year through the National Science Foundation for these activities.  Congresswoman Moore’s bill is expected to be included in comprehensive legislation, the NSF For the Future Act, reauthorizing the National Science Foundation that the House Space, Science, and Technology Committee is expected to take up next week.