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DSU receives $1 million grant to draw more diverse students to sciences

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Delaware State University received a five-year $1 million grant from the largest private, nonprofit supporter of science education in the United States, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), and its Inclusive Excellence initiative.

The HHMI Inclusive Excellence Program donates to efforts to increase the capacity of colleges and universities to engage all students, with a focus on the “new majority,” or undergraduates who come to college on non-traditional pathways. Designed to increase the schools’ responsibilities, the initiative helps colleges and universities encourage participation of students in the natural sciences.

“Too many times we approach diversity with a deficit mindset in which interventions are aimed at ‘fixing the students,’” said David Asai, senior director for science education at HHMI. “We want to change the way schools do business.”

DSU is one of 24 schools to receive this grant. Dr. Vincent Fondong, DSU professor of biological sciences and the principal investigator, notes that the funding will be used in support of the university’s Promoting Engagement and Access in Science (DSU-PEAS) initiative.

Funding will also be distributed towards the development of lab programming, online courses, and seminar training.

“The most important part of the grant is helping us identify nontraditional students, to understand their challenges and how we can assist them in STEM programs,” Dr. Fondong said.

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