, which works to build a robust pipeline of underrepresented students and increase the total annual number of African-American college graduates, has announced its first class of Fund II Foundation UNCF STEM scholars.
Funded by a $48 million grant from the , the will empower the next generation of African American STEM innovators and tech entrepreneurs by providing one hundred top-performing African-American high school seniors — fifty men and fifty women — with $2,500 per academic year as freshmen and sophomores, $5,000 a year as juniors and seniors, an additional $5,000 if their academic programs require a fifth year, and a $5,000 stipend based on a STEM-related project or internship, as well as wrap-around support critical to their academic success.
The inaugural class of STEM scholars hails from twenty-nine states, with Georgia, Maryland, and Texas topping the list with fourteen, ten, and eight scholars, respectively. Thirteen of the scholars are headed to seven Ivy League institutions, while twelve will attend seven historically black colleges and universities. Currently, African Americans comprise less than 5 percent of the science and engineering workforce and less than 1 percent of all tech startups.
"We are thrilled by the selection of the first hundred Fund II Foundation UNCF STEM Scholars," said Linda Wilson, executive director of the Fund II Foundation — whose president, Robert F. Smith graduated from Cornell University's College of Engineering. "These young scholars offer so much hope and excitement for the future as technology is transforming the economy at lightning speed."