HBCU Week Shares Best Practices on Graduating STEM Majors, Applying for Grants

Lenora Hammonds, associate professor of jazz studies at North Carolina Central University, recently received support from the National Endowment for the Arts. Hammonds shared advice on his application process at the HBCU National Conference this week.Last week, the National Conference of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) began its final day with sessions such as the results of research on HBCU STEM graduate students as well as tips for humanities professors to ask. federal grants.

To help meet funding needs, a session with panelists who recently received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) or the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) offered guidance to potential applicants.

“It’s important not to be silent about something you do on campus that you are passionate about,” said Lenora Helm Hammonds, associate professor of jazz studies at North Carolina Central University (NCCU). Hammonds recently received NEA support for an NCCU Teaching Artist Certification program. “I just started reaching out to people, telling them that’s what I got, who do you know that can help me figure out what I don’t know.”

Tina Rollins, director of the William R. and Norma B. Harvey Library at Hampton University, agreed and suggested establishing a relationship with the institution’s grant coordination office as well as NEA staff. or NEH.

“Know your connections on campus that will help you understand what you need for your application,” said Rollins, who has received support from NEH to develop a national forum on recruiting and retaining minority library professionals. “It’s always great to have a cheerleader in the sponsored programs or grants office who will answer your calls. “

Rollins and Hammonds both shared the impact of their grants on gaining greater respect for their work in the humanities.

“It created a way for activists who were artists in my community to be able to say, ‘Oh, NEA thinks this is viable, important and worth supporting. Therefore, my work is viable and important and worth supporting, ”Hammonds said.

During the HBCU’s STEM student session, the researchers shared their findings by analyzing student data at higher education institutions. Researchers have found that HBCUs have a unique experience in educating black STEM students.

“In general, we see that black students would have been more likely to graduate from college if they had attended an HBCU,” said Dr. Omari Swinton, professor of economics and chair of the economics department of the Howard University. “And if they had graduated from an HBCU, they would have been more likely to have graduated in STEM.”

Dr James Koch, professor of economics at the Board of Visitors and president emeritus of Old Dominion University, pointed out another conclusion when examining the parental income of students at HBCUs compared to those at predominantly white institutions (PWIs).

“HBCUs provide their students with much more upward economic mobility than PWIs,” Koch said.

His team compared the incomes of graduates to that of their parents to understand the long-term impact of higher education institutions on low-income students in particular.

“You have a good chance of being ahead of your parents’ income and you are more likely to fall into the top 20% of income if you come from the bottom 20% of income when you come out of school. an HBCU, “said Dr. William Spriggs, professor of economics at Howard University and chief economist of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO).

These types of metrics are often lacking when colleges are ranked nationally, Spriggs added.

“Not having that context of student mobility on this scorecard and what the college is actually doing can be misleading,” he said. “We are looking at the long term horizon of the student, not the short term horizon of the scorecard. “

Yet states use similar scorecards for higher education institution funding decisions, which Spriggs says puts HBCUs at a disadvantage, masking their importance especially as a stream of STEM graduates.

Spriggs added that the racial wealth gap exists between higher education institutions, not just for individuals. PWIs typically have more resources than HBCUs, yet HBCUs tend to train more low-income students and students of color.

“We’re talking about HBCU with different stories, different resources, different locations,” Spriggs said. “The only thing in common is a commitment to access, as evidenced by a very large proportion of low-income students in HBCUs. The common denominator is an intention to graduate our students.

On why HBCUs are graduating so many underrepresented students, Spriggs said the intangible quality is behind the numbers.

“I can give you the ingredients from the best chefs in America. It doesn’t mean you can cook like them. You have to have the intention, ”Spriggs said. “Are you motivated by a goal? Are you really trying to achieve something? And the data shows how vitally important that in itself is. “

Rebecca Kelliher can be contacted at [email protected]

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