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NSF announces Taking Action: COVID-19 DEI Challenge winners


May 16, 2022

Today, the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) announced the winners of the Taking Action: COVID-19 Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Challenge.

NSF awarded $25,000 in cash prizes to the winning institutions of higher education that identified actions they implemented or planned to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in STEM at their colleges and universities.

“This important challenge rewards institutions for their efforts to ensure that the pandemic will not reduce the already low participation and inclusion of diverse students and workers in STEM education and careers,” said Dr. Diana Elder, Division Director of NSF’s Division of Human Resource Development.

Winning challenge participants shared a number of interventions, such as launching a graduate student well-being program, providing accessible and free Wi-Fi connectivity on and near campus and shifting institutional policies to automatically grant tenure clock extensions to faculty.  

“Issues brought on by the pandemic or exacerbated by it really require all hands on deck,” said Dr. Sylvia Butterfield, Acting Assistant Director for NSF’s Education and Human Resources Directorate. “It was wonderful to see so many institutions across the country share their action plans to tackle the long-term impacts of the pandemic on DEI in STEM.”

The four first place winners include Laredo Community College, Texas, Fort Lewis College, Colorado, University of Missouri, and Indiana University-Purdue University, Indiana. The full list of winners and honorable mentions can be found below and will also be published on www.nsf.gov/takingaction. NSF distributed a total of $200,000 in cash prizes. An NSF-hosted showcase of the winning interventions will take place in June 2022 (the details will be forthcoming). Following the showcase, an open access repository of winning entries and honorable mentions* will be shared broadly for the benefit of all institutions facing similar challenges.

Full List of Winners and Honorable Mentions:

Two-year STEM undergraduate category

  1. $25,000 - Laredo Community College, TX
  2. $15,000 - Palo Alto College, TX
  3. $10,000 - Sinclair Community College, OH

Honorable Mentions (alphabetical)

  • Doña Ana Community College, NM
  • LaGuardia Community College, NY
  • Montgomery College, MD
  • Wenatchee Valley College, WA

Four-year STEM undergraduate category

  1. $25,000 - Fort Lewis College, CO
  2. $15,000 - Pacific Lutheran University, WA
  3. $10,000 - North Carolina A&T University, NC

Honorable Mentions (alphabetical)

  • Nevada State College, NV 
  • North Carolina State University, NC
  • The Ohio State University, OH
  • The University of Texas at Austin, TX
  • University of Notre Dame, IN

STEM Graduate Student and Postdoctoral Scholar category

  1. $25,000 - University of Missouri, MO
  2. $15,000 - University of California, Irvine, CA
  3. $10,000 - New Mexico State University, NM

STEM Faculty category

  1. $25,000 - Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis, IN
  2. $15,000 - University of Massachusetts Amherst, MA
  3. $10,000 - University of Delaware, DE

Honorable Mentions (alphabetical)

  • Florida International University, FL
  • Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, NJ
  • Spelman College, GA
  • Texas A&M University, TX
  • University of California, Irvine, CA
  • University of Illinois, Chicago, IL
  • Villanova University, PA
  • Worcester Polytechnic Institute, MA

For more information about the NSF Taking Action: COVID-19 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Challenge, visit nsf.gov/takingaction.

*Honorable mention interventions will also be available in the Challenge repository.

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The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2022 budget of $8.8 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2022 budget of $8.8 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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