A North Carolina-based HBCU on a mission to diversify the STEM industry will advance its efforts thanks to a significant financial boost. According to WBTV, Livingstone College received a $2.24 million endowment.
The donation—provided by the National Science Foundation—will support programs at the school’s F. George Shipman Science Center, a newly unveiled 16,000-square-foot space named after the HBCU’s sixth president. The building—designed to foster STEM innovation—features a state-of-the-art immersion theater that doubles as a planetarium and a hydroponic greenhouse.
The center also houses labs for scholars to conduct research centered on biochemistry, microbiology, physiology and other areas of science. The endowment will also support the ‘Living Well @ Livingstone’ program, aiming to improve graduation rates amongst underrepresented students.
“We are thrilled to finally be able to cut the ribbon and showcase our new state-of-the-art science annex to the public,” Livingstone College President Dr. Jimmy R. Jenkins said in a statement, according to the news outlet. “This annex coupled with the STEM grant will allow us to leverage partnerships with community science entrepreneurs and enhance the STEM student experience.” The grant is historic as it marks the largest gift the school has received in its 143-year history.
This isn’t the first time the National Science Foundation has invested in a historically Black college. The agency developed the HBCU STEM Undergraduate Success Research Center and awarded $9 million to Virginia State University, Morehouse College and Spelman College to establish the program.
“Investing in the institutional capacity of HBCUs and developing diverse STEM talent is part of NSF’s longstanding commitment to broaden participation of groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM,” NSF program officer Claudia Rankins shared in a statement. “The knowledge generated by this center will detail what practices make HBCUs successful in educating Black students in STEM, and the center will place HBCUs at the forefront of STEM education reform.”
Research shows 18 percent of Black graduates who earned bachelor’s degrees in STEM studied at HBCUs.