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News Release 18-001

NSF makes first awards through Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program

Funding will bolster STEM capacity at HSIs

Alexandra Coso Strong leads a class at Franklin W. Olin College.

Alexandra Coso Strong will lead an HSI Program conference on engineering education.

January 3, 2018

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has issued the first awards through its Improving Undergraduate STEM Education: Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI Program), which is designed to enhance undergraduate education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) at Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs).

"For decades, NSF has worked to provide members of communities traditionally underserved in STEM with access to STEM education and opportunities in STEM careers," said Jim Lewis, acting NSF assistant director for Education and Human Resources. "Through our HSI Program, NSF aims to identify the most critical challenges and important opportunities for learners in undergraduate STEM education at HSIs."

Established in 2017, the HSI Program is the result of NSF's work with the HSI community and lawmakers to find ways to bolster the quality of undergraduate STEM education. The program also seeks to build STEM capacity at HSIs that typically do not receive high levels of NSF funding.

The HSI Program addresses requirements set by Congress in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017 and the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (AICA), recognizing the need to build STEM capacity at HSIs and increase graduation rates for students pursuing associate and bachelor's degrees in STEM at HSIs.

The program will accept proposals in two tracks, Building Capacity and HSIs New to NSF, and will also fund one Resource Hub to support the needs of HSIs. The program will support projects in three main areas:

  • Critical Transitions. Develop new knowledge about successful advancement of undergraduates at HSIs through critical transitions, including the transition from lower-division to upper-division coursework.
  • Cross-Sector Partnerships. Establish projects that develop mutually beneficial partnerships to build faculty capacity and student opportunities to conduct STEM research or STEM education research at HSIs.
  • Research on Broadening Participation in STEM. Generate new knowledge about how to enhance undergraduate STEM education that results in an increase in retention and graduation rates of undergraduate students pursuing degrees in STEM fields at HSIs.

To gather stakeholder input, NSF issued the first HSI Program awards for seven conferences in Fiscal Year (FY) 2018. This year's awarded conference projects, their principal investigators and their institutions are listed below:

In FY 2017, NSF made four awards for conferences aimed at informing the HSI Program’s design. Those four awards, their principal investigators and their institutions are listed below:


  • A project at the City College of New York will explore increasing access in urban STEM programs.
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  • Nova Southeastern University held a conference that helped inform the design of NSF's HSI Program.
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  • Researchers at the University of Arizona focused on insights into STEM learning from the Southwest.
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  • Nora Garza will lead an HSI Program project at Laredo Community College focused on STEM resources.
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Media Contacts
Bobbie Mixon, NSF, (703) 292-8070, email:

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2020, its budget is $8.3 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 50,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.

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