Universities Partner to Boost Native Americans in STEM Fields

The has announced a three-year, $2.4 million collaboration to increase the number of Native Americans obtaining advanced degrees in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.

In partnership with the and campuses of the University of Alaska; the ; the , , and ; and , the foundation will ramp up the Sloan Indigenous Graduate Partnership (SIGP) with the aim of strengthening and expanding successful initiatives at each institution to recruit, train, and graduate Native American and Native Alaskan students in STEM disciplines.

Most of the funding will go to students in the form of stipends, providing support to an estimated fifty-nine master’s and twenty Ph.D. students a year. The rest will be used to support programming, recruitment, and retention activities at each institution; the sharing of best practices with respect to the recruitment and support of Native American/Alaskan graduate students; and the creation of professional development opportunities such as student exchange programs.

Although Native Americans and Native Alaskans are 1.2 percent of the U.S. population, they earned only 0.3 percent of all doctorates in 2012 — less than the 0.5 percent share they earned twenty years earlier. What's more, of the 11,764 research doctorates awarded in engineering and scientific fields in 2012, only forty-eight were awarded to Native Americans/Alaskans.

"We are at a significant transition point in the history of the SIGP," said Elizabeth S. Boylan, program director at the Sloan Foundation. "The campuses are now funded to work cooperatively to leverage their individual efforts into a national presence, to enhance mentoring and professional development across the network, and to continue enabling indigenous American graduate to succeed in STEM master's and Ph.D. programs."

"." Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Press Release 06/23/2014.