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September 19, 2019

Committee Members Introduce Minority Serving Institution STEM Achievement Act

(Washington, DC) – Yesterday, Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) along with Congressman Michael Waltz (R-FL) introduced H.R. 4372, the “MSI STEM Achievement Act.” H.R. 4372 directs the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support research to better understand the challenges minority serving institutions (MSIs) face, their contributions to the STEM workforce, and effective approaches to enhancing their capacity to compete for Federal STEM education and research funds. The bill also ensures that Federal science agencies are actively engaging with MSIs to help build their research competitiveness and encourage partnerships among MSI’s and between MSI’s and other stakeholders to leverage networks, build capacity, and create new opportunities for MSI students to pursue STEM careers.

“With the demand for STEM skills at an all-time high, we must do more to increase the number of STEM graduates entering the workforce,” said Chairwoman Johnson. “However, it is increasingly clear that we cannot get there with a STEM workforce that does not reflect the diversity of the nation. MSIs have a proven track record of recruiting, retaining, and graduating underrepresented minority students who are prepared to enter the STEM workforce. MSI programs and practices are also promising models for other universities seeking to increase the success of underrepresented minority students in STEM on their campuses. Unfortunately, a lack of resources and infrastructure necessary to compete for Federal research and STEM education funding have prevented MSIs from realizing their full potential to contribute to the STEM workforce. We must act quickly if we are to address the challenges of the 21st century and maintain our standing as the global leader in innovation. This bill is an important step in that direction.”

“Minorities make up 27 percent of the U.S. population but are severely underrepresented in STEM fields, only accounting for 11 percent of the STEM workforce,” said Rep. Waltz. “Minority-serving institutions like Bethune-Cookman University are key to improving participation and retention in STEM. This bill focuses on increasing STEM capacity at these institutions, encourages partnerships with industry and expands our STEM workforce in places with high-tech jobs like Florida’s Space Triangle.”