Howard University and NREL Join Forces to Increase Diversity in Clean Energy Workforce

Howard University, one of the nation’s leading historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU), became the first HBCU to join the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) governing alliance board of directors, which consists of leaders from universities with top-tier science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs. This partnership will help ensure that more students from historically disadvantaged communities can enjoy fulfilling careers that shape the future of renewable energy.

Howard University, in Washington, D.C., produces more African American Ph.D. students than any other higher-education institution. Joining NREL’s governing alliance board enables Howard to offer more education and training opportunities to its students; provide expertise, guidance, support, and perspective to NREL.

“The NREL professional network will provide untold opportunities for our students and graduates to pursue and secure careers in energy,” said Bruce Jones, vice president for research at Howard University.

Black and Indigenous people, people of color, and women remain underrepresented in the clean energy workforce. NREL, one of the U.S. Department of Energy’s 17 national laboratories, is committed to supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion in clean energy innovation. Creative partnerships that summon diversity of thought from various communities are essential to solving our national energy and climate challenges.

“Having an HBCU on the board will give us better insights and allow us to do a better job of inclusion across the laboratory,” says NREL Director Martin Keller.

DOE has several longstanding partnerships with HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions, and was recently recognized in the top 5 of government agencies supporting HBCUs in 2023. These successful working relationships will help DOE achieve the energy-equity goals stated in President Biden’s Justice40 initiative while preparing the next generation of STEM professionals to support the clean energy transition.

Howard’s presence on NREL’s governing alliance board is a crucial step toward ensuring the future clean energy workforce is diverse, inclusive, and looks like America.