PHILADELPHIA (Feb. 3, 2014) — The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust has granted $1.5 million to support the work of the Penn Center for Minority-Serving Institutions (CMSI) a new research center at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education.
Directed by Dr. Marybeth Gasman, a historian and professor at the Graduate School of Education, this first-of-its-kind center focuses on furthering higher education for under-represented populations, and brings total funding for the newly-launched Center to $3.5 million.
The Helmsley Trust grant will fund a three-year investigation of STEM education at 10 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), with the ultimate goal of improving STEM capacity among African Americans and other under-represented students.
The CMSI will choose ten HBCUs in a competitive process based on the institutions’ current best practices and proposals for enhancing STEM learning at their institutions. Each of the selected institutions will be allotted a $50,000 sub-grant to launch a capacity building initiative in their STEM education area, increase the success of their students, and establish their faculty as leaders in STEM.
“We are tremendously grateful to the Helmsley Trust for their extraordinary generosity and confidence in our work,” said Dr. Gasman. “With their support the Center for Minority-Serving Institutions will be able to fulfill our vision of preserving institutions that truly lift up their students, giving them the vital opportunity and support that they need to succeed in college and beyond.”
“The retention and graduation of STEM majors, particularly among under-represented student populations, is critical not only for the career prospects of these individuals, but for the global competitiveness of the United States,” said Rich McKeon, Program Director of the Helmsley Charitable Trust’s Education Program. “We are delighted to support Penn’s CMSI in its vital work with HBCUs, which will highlight and expand effective practices for other post-secondary institutions throughout the nation to follow.”
The Helmsley Charitable Trust aspires to improve lives by supporting effective nonprofits in health, place-based initiatives, education and human services. Since 2008, when the Trust began its active grant-making, it has committed more than $1 billion to a wide range of charitable organizations. Through its National Education Program, the Trust views education as a lever to advance both American economic competitiveness and individual social mobility.
In K-12, the Trust focuses on ensuring all students graduate high school prepared for college or careers by supporting teacher effectiveness and the adoption and implementation of high academic standards. In post-secondary education, the Trust is primarily interested in increasing the number of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) graduates who can participate in high growth sectors of the economy. The Trust also focuses on policy levers that improve post-secondary completion, particularly for underrepresented populations.
The Center for Minority-Serving Institutions (CMSI) brings together researchers and practitioners from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs); Tribal Colleges and Universities; Hispanic-Serving Institutions; and Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions. It will serve as a central hub for research, data, best practices, emerging innovations, and ideas surrounding Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs).
The CMSI’s goals include elevating the educational contributions of Minority-Serving Institutions; ensuring that they are a part of national conversations; bringing awareness to the vital role MSIs play in the nation’s economic development; increasing the rigorous scholarship of MSIs; connecting MSI academic and administrative leadership to promote reform initiatives; and bolstering efforts to close educational achievement gaps among disadvantaged communities.
Dr. Marybeth Gasman is a Professor of Higher Education in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. Her areas of expertise include the history of American higher education, historically black colleges and universities, minority serving institutions, African American leadership, and fundraising and philanthropy. In addition to her numerous academic publications, she is a regular contributor to the Chronicle of Higher Education, Diverse Issues, the Huffington Post, the New York Times, and the Washington Post.