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Several historically Black colleges and universities across the country are in the running to win a major grant for the development of a rocketry program on their campuses. The Costa Mesa, California-based Base 11 organization recently announced that it would award a $1.5 million grant to an HBCU, the Birmingham Times reported.

The money will be used to further STEM research and will fund the creation of a liquid-fuel rocketry lab, the news outlet writes. The competition is slated to kick-off in August. The non-profit believes that the seven-figure grant will help diversify the aerospace industry and close the racial gap in STEM.

“Bringing more diversity to the field is going to be key to long-term economic growth as well as America’s global competitiveness because at the end of the day it is technology that’s driving the future of humankind,” Douglas R. Bender, a Base 11 corporate board member, told the news outlet. “You’ve got academia, you’ve got industry, and you’ve got philanthropy, and for the first time ever we’re kind of squarely in the middle to try to tie those things together so we can support STEM, but also the participation of minorities through HBCUs.”

Landon Taylor, CEO, Base 11, added that people of color were left out of the tech boom and he wants to ensure that they aren’t ostracized within the space industry stating that the program “can work in concert with industry to develop in-demand aerospace talent and launch new innovations that will harness space as the new frontier.”

According to CNBC, the space industry is slated to be worth nearly $3 trillion within the next 30 years.


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