NSF awards new level of support for tribal colleges, establishes STEM centers

September 28, 2018

The National Science Foundation's (NSF) Tribal Colleges and Universities Program (TCUP) has awarded $14 million to tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) to establish four new centers -- the first of their kind.

The Tribal Enterprise Advancement (TEA) centers will build upon the scientific and engineering (S&E) expertise at the TCUs to prepare the next generation of scientific professionals who will serve as the decision-makers and intellectual resources for their tribes and communities. The centers will address environmental, social, educational and economic challenges and promote community-relevant opportunities.

A trained S&E professional workforce, positioned for employment in tribal, state and national government agencies, will help change the economic well-being and quality of life on reservations and in other native communities.

Since the establishment of TCUs in the 1970s, federal agencies, particularly NSF, have invested in their science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) instructional capacity, supporting curricula, faculty, students and research. The new TEA Centers represent a significant step forward for TCUs that serve their communities as STEM partners.

"When TCUP began in 2001, we couldn't have anticipated the tremendous growth in the TCUs' STEM programming in such a few years," said Jody Chase, program director in NSF's Education and Human Resources Directorate. "But the popularity of STEM majors took off when culturally relevant curricula, undergraduate research opportunities and challenging mathematics courses came onto the menu, supported by agencies such as NSF and by the colleges' commitments to increase the numbers of highly qualified, scientifically credentialed faculty."

With federal funding, STEM opportunities at TCUs grew to include associate, baccalaureate and graduate degrees, and resulted in an array of research relevant to students' interests, cultures and environments.

"Having a trained scientific and engineering professional workforce, positioned for employment in tribal, state and national government agencies, will change the economic well-being and quality of life for reservations and other native communities," Chase said. "We anticipate these new centers will produce greater innovation and economic expansion within the communities served by the TCUP institutions."

The following is a list of the newly awarded centers, institutions and principal investigators, and brief descriptions of the center's anticipated activities.

National Science Foundation

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