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Biden admin to award millions in science grants for 'racial equity' in STEM education

National Science Foundation "seeks to support bold, groundbreaking and potentially transformative projects addressing systemic racism in STEM" with $30 million program.

Updated: May 8, 2021 - 3:57pm

The Biden administration is spending millions in grants through the National Science Foundation to address what the federal agency calls "systemic racism" in the country and to advance "racial equity" in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education.

"Persistent racial injustices and inequalities in the United States have led to renewed concern and interest in addressing systemic racism," reads a synopsis of the Racial Equity in STEM Education Program on the NSF website. "The National Science Foundation (NSF) Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR) seeks to support bold, groundbreaking and potentially transformative projects addressing systemic racism in STEM."

Although the grants are funded by the federal government's primary source of support for basic science research, the agency emphasizes that proposals are to be developed by and reflect the perspective of aggrieved groups and individuals who perceive themselves as victims of undefined "inequities" assumed in advance to be caused by "systemic racism."

"Core to this funding opportunity is that proposals are led by, or developed and led in authentic partnership with, individuals and communities most impacted by the inequities caused by systemic racism," specifies the agency. "The voices, knowledge, and experiences of those who have been impacted by enduring racial inequities should be at the center of these proposals, including in, for example: project leadership and research positions, conceptualization of the proposal, decision-making processes, and the interpretation and dissemination of evidence and research results."

The NSF stipulates that research funded by these grants should be designed to produce predetermined outcomes that benefit those engaged to conduct the research. 

"The proposed work should provide positive outcomes for the individuals and communities engaged and should recognize people's humanity, experiences, and resilience," according to the program description.  

A synopsis on the government's grants.gov website shows $30 million will be awarded to an expected 45 grantees beginning in July.

Since President Biden took office, the NSF has awarded millions in grants related to equity, diversity and inclusion, a review of government spending by Just the News showed.

One grant for nearly $300K was given to "support diversity to increase innovation." That grant was to build a computer information technician workforce in New Mexico through "equity and inclusion." 

Another $647K grant was given to Texas A&M University for what the grant summary describes as "collaborative research: community-engaged preparation of highly skilled, equity-focused secondary STEM teachers."

NSF also awarded nearly $1 million to promote equity in social sciences to the Brooklyn-based Social Science Research Council.

The University of California, Santa Barbara received a $481,000 grant on diversity for "understanding how diversity exposure impacts social categorization."

Additional grants awarded by NSF include $1.4 million for expanding equity and opportunity for Native American high school students and $200,000 to the University of Tennessee for "black and Latino parents leading reform and advancing racial justice in elementary mathematics." 

On Biden's first day in office, he signed an executive order on "advancing racial equity and support for underserved communities through the federal government" and directed agencies to assess their programs and policies.

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