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Reps. Waltz, Johnson Introduce Bill to Improve STEM Opportunities for Minorities

Washington, DC, September 19, 2019
Tags: Education

On Wednesday, U.S. Reps. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.) and U.S. House Science, Space and Technology Committee Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) introduced a bill to improve participation in STEM at minority-serving institutions (MSIs) by increasing capacity for students in STEM curricula, encouraging partnerships with industry and federal laboratories and establishing a liaison for MSIs within the federal government.

H.R. 4372, the MSI STEM Achievement Act, also directs the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Government Accountability Office (GAO) to better understand the challenges facing MSIs. The bill would also ensure federal science agencies are actively engaging with MSIs to build research competitiveness and create opportunities for minority students to pursue STEM careers.

“Minorities make up 27 percent of the U.S. population but are severely underrepresented in STEM fields, only accounting for 11 percent of the STEM workforce,” Waltz said. “Minority-serving institutions like Bethune-Cookman University are key to improving participation and retention in STEM fields. Investing in STEM institutions that educate underrepresented populations will create a larger, more diverse STEM talent pool to fill the jobs we need to and make our country more competitive, including here in Florida’s Space Triangle.”

“With the demand for STEM skills at an all-time high, we must do more to increase the number of STEM graduates entering the workforce,” said Chairwoman Johnson. “However, it is increasingly clear that we cannot get there with a STEM workforce that does not reflect the diversity of the nation. MSIs have a proven track record of recruiting, retaining and graduating underrepresented minority students who are prepared to enter the STEM workforce. MSI programs and practices are also promising models for other universities seeking to increase the success of underrepresented minority students in STEM on their campuses. Unfortunately, a lack of resources and infrastructure necessary to compete for Federal research and STEM education funding have prevented MSIs from realizing their full potential to contribute to the STEM workforce. We must act quickly if we are to address the challenges of the 21st century and maintain our standing as the global leader in innovation. This bill is an important step in that direction.”

To view the bill, click here.

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