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Historically Black colleges and universities across the country are using the power of education as an avenue to advance diversity in STEM. Fayetteville State University was awarded a multi-million dollar endowment from the National Institutes of Health to support scholars pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The $2.3 million grant will go towards the creation of scholarships for students from underserved communities. The funds will help cultivate the Undergraduate Research Training Initiative for Student Enhancement (U-RISE) which was launched to align scholars from historically disenfranchised groups with the resources needed to thrive in college and enter biomedical research-based Ph.D. programs.

The NIH grant was awarded to Dr. James E. Raynor Jr. who serves as a professor in the institution’s Department of Biological and Forensic Sciences. Under Dr. Raynor’s guidance the school’s former initiative, FSU-RISE, supported over 300 underprivileged students, many of whom transitioned into prestigious medical programs at schools like Johns Hopkins University, Cornell University and Harvard University.

Dr. Monica Leach, the institution’s Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, says the endowment will level the playing field in STEM through access and education. “FSU has been hard at work ensuring that students have access to everything they need to be successful,” Dr. Leach shared in a statement. “From reducing tuition to rethinking our organizational structure to better serve students, we believe in keeping our students’ best interest at the heart of what we do. This grant helps us take another step in the direction of providing unfettered access to fields of study that, historically, have been inaccessible to students from underrepresented communities. We are excited about the promise U-RISE holds for FSU’s students.”

Many HBCUs have received grants to elevate their STEM education-centered programs. In February, North Carolina-based Livingstone College received a $2.24 million endowment from the National Science Foundation.


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