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Huge research funding plans underway for minority-serving institutions (MSI)

By October 1, 2021 No Comments
research funding plans

As part of its economic recovery and rebuilding plan, the Biden administration will ask Congress to devote billions of dollars to research funding for Minority Serving Institutions (MSI). MSIs include:

  • Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU)
  • Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCU)
  • Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI)
  • Predominantly Black Institutions (PBI)
  • Asian American and Pacific Islander Serving Institutions (AAPISI).

Currently, about 750 colleges and universities in the United States have this designation.

The Administration sees MSIs as a critical component of its plan to increase the STEM workforce in the coming decade. It has incorporated research funding requests into special spending packages pending before Congress. If adopted, the plans will fund research infrastructure upgrades at MSIs across the country. This will also provide research funding for new and existing programs.

In addition to the special funding requests, the Administration has also asked to expand spending at MSIs. This would be done through established funding mechanisms. Democrats in the House of Representatives have supported these measures, but at spending levels below the administration’s request. The research funding is part of the Biden Administration’s broader goal to increase support for MSIs through the government’s routine appropriation process.

Why support for MSIs is important

Targeting MSIs is essential, according to the administration, because HBCUs produce about 25% of STEM undergraduate students in the US. Additionally, they educate about 40% of all minority undergraduates. Building research infrastructure is critical to the long-term success of these institutions.

As such, the Biden Administration has requested $20 billion for research infrastructure upgrades at MSIs, as well as $15 billion to fund the creation of Centers of Excellence there, and $10 billion in STEM-focused research funding.

Shifting focus to research funding for MSIs

So far, the House Education and Labor Committee has drafted legislation to fund $2 billion in infrastructure upgrades over seven years. The money could also be used as research funding to support internships, fellowships, and post-doctoral positions. Further, the House has also proposed an additional $1B to the National Science Foundation to support research at MSIs as well as research upgrades. The Department of Agriculture may also be directed to provide another $1B in research funding for research facilities at MSIs.

The effort to deliver additional funding to MSIs is not new. The Department of Defense has doubled its research funding for MSIs in the last five years. That funding has been largely directed toward HBCUs. It has funded research centers, student internships and other STEM-focused programs in materials sciences, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and aerospace research.

Last week, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration announced a $30M grant to Florida A&M University to fund STEM training for underrepresented students. The research funding will focus largely upon programs that examine place-based conservation; coastal resilience and coastal intelligence.

How institution classification of MSIs impacts funding

Typically, MSIs do not have large research portfolios. Currently, only two MSIs are classified as R1 institutions. This is beginning to change, however. Nearly 20 MSIs are currently classified as R2. Now, there is a push to help more of these institutions achieve R1 status. In support of this, the National Academies has recently begun helping MSIs compete more effectively for large federal STEM research grants.

The efforts are not all one-sided, however. The Biden Administration has also charged all federal agencies with incorporating best practices in inclusion and diversity as they relate to STEM funding opportunities.

Supporting research funding management with efficient research administration software

Streamlyne delivers a comprehensive, cloud-based eRA software system that efficiently manages the research administration process from proposal development to award closeout. Please see our case study on how this efficiency has enabled another growing research institution to achieve a R1 Carnegie designation.

For more information about Streamlyne Research and how Streamlyne Research can reduce your institution’s overall research administration costs and support the search for additional research funding, please contact us.