Intellectual Merit: This project aims to help Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to more successfully compete for funds that support STEM education. To achieve this aim, the Capstone Institute at Howard University proposes to conduct a needs assessment of and develop an intervention plan to help level the playing field. The goal ensures that HBCUs become a vital part of grant application and funding processes available through federal agencies and private and public foundations. The Capstone Institute offers 25 of 105 HBCUs an opportunity to participate in grant-related activities that include: a comprehensive needs assessment, customized workshops based on the outcomes of the needs assessment, access to experienced grant writers and expert mentors, and technical assistance through extensive follow-up interactions and services.

Broader Impacts: To broaden participation and improve STEM opportunities more evenly, the Capstone Institute intends to help build capacity on participating HBCU campuses. The big idea is to enable HBCUs to contribute more successfully to rapidly expanding STEM fields while promoting awareness and interests of their students in STEM careers.

Project Report

NSF Project Outcome Report Capstone Institute at Howard University HBCU Grant Writing Outreach Intervention It is widely appreciated that if our nation is to remain viable in STEM realms in the future, we must produce greater numbers of minority scientists and engineers, and greater numbers of scholars who implement first rate, innovative, and relevant programs of scientific research (USCCR, 2010). Far too few investigators from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) apply to the NSF research grant programs and fewer still are awarded funding. Yet such institutions are populated disproportionately by STEM and STEM education faculty/researchers that focus their academic work on issues relevant to minority communities. HBCUs produce a disproportionately high share of African-American students who receive degrees in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. Approximately 20% of African American college students attend HBCUs but HBCUs produce 40% of black engineers. Additionally, of the top 21 undergraduate producers of African-American science Ph.D.s, 17 were HBCUs (Elliott, et al., 1996). These findings have been reinforced by more recent evidence (Sibulkin and Butler, 2011). Typically HBCUs have less research funding and fewer research support resources than comparable non-HBCUs (USCCR, 2010). To combat these challenges, Capstone Institute at Howard University proposed an HBCU Grant Writing Outreach Intervention targeting HBCU faculty for grant writing professional development services, in an effort to increase the funding and the diversity in STEM research on teaching and learning. Capstone focused on the Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR) which sponsors programs through vessels like the Divisi-on of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings (DRL), which currently manages six grant initiatives. These grant initiatives support innovations, research, evaluation, and education to ensure the continuous improvement of a nationally literate and educated STEM workforce. The goal of Capstone’s HBCU Grant Writing Outreach Intervention was to prepare HBCU faculty to produce high quality NSF/DRL grant proposals by improving their grant writing knowledge and skills through customized job- embedded professional development services. Toward this end, Capstone moved away from the stand alone workshop training model to one which was specifically tailored for its participants and provided ongoing constructive feedback as participants learned and utilized the information and materials they had gained from the workshop (Supovitz, 2002; Wood, 2007). In fact, the professional development began long before the "official" workshop’s onset, as crucial information on participants' needs was first gathered prior to session planning to ensure that the sessions were customized based on the needs assessment data of the participants. Capstone’s HBCU Grant Writing Outreach Intervention consisted of several important activities. We: (1) identified a cadre of experienced successful grant-writers to serve as advisory board members for the intervention;(2) recruited 30 HBCU faculty member participants from a pool of 59 applicants across 25 research-oriented HBCUs;(3) conducted a series of webinars to introduce and orient the participants to the NSF Grant Writing Training program; (4) conducted a comprehensive needs assessment; (5) administered a Grant Writing Knowledge Tool pretest and posttest; (6) recruited and prepared grant-experienced mentors who were assigned to faculty participant’s based upon compatible content areas of specialization; (7) provided a two day, customized workshop for participants and (8) implemented individualized follow-up support for the participating HBCU faculty members including site visits and the formation of mentor-coordinated professional learning communities (Supovitz, 2002; Wood, 2007). As a result of the Capstone Institute HBCU Grant Writing Intervention, nineteen (63%) of the participants have submitted extended outlines, concept papers and /or draft proposals to their mentors and received feedback. Furthermore, there was a statistically significant, 75 percent increase in grant writing knowledge as indexed by changes from pretest to posttest in performance on the Grant Writing Knowledge Tool. Participants also expressed greater confidence in their ability to produce high quality proposals as a consequence of their involvement in this project. Through our site visits, we discerned potential stumbling blocks to grant writing that could not be gleaned from survey data alone. Many schools did not have formal mechanisms for identifying and notifying faculty members about relevant grant opportunities. Also, the role of the research administration office varied widely across the campuses, and the services were problematic at some institutions. Often, the offices were under staffed and overwhelmed with grant submission and administration duties. It was also illuminated that cultures of collaboration were not readily evident on these campuses. Still further, our participants spent inordinate amounts of time in daily meetings with undergraduate students with regard to academic and personal concerns; this has contributed to limited staff time for grant writing and research. In all we are confident that this project has offered insight that could lead to greater participation of HBCU researchers in STEM science research in general and particularly in NSF funded STEM research.

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Howard University
United States
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