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Author: Sheila Dillard, Communications and Stakeholder Engagement Lead

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Diverse BETO Collage

BETO supports STEM education and energy literacy, and works to ensure that underrepresented and underserved students have equal learning and career opportunities. Photo courtesy of NREL

Black History Month recognizes, celebrates, and reflects on the contributions and impacts that African Americans have made to strengthen the nation’s economic and social infrastructure. Entrepreneurial thinking and an innovative spirit from diverse backgrounds are critical to addressing the challenges that affect communities across the country and ensuring the solutions deployed are fully inclusive. The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) is committed to advancing energy security and economic growth through the development of careers and education resources and by offering training opportunities to meet the needs of a growing bioenergy workforce. As we celebrate Black History Month, BETO is spotlighting partnerships with historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and minority-serving institutions (MSIs) that are developing innovative and transformational clean energy technologies, creating well-paying jobs, and supporting communities across the nation.

BETO-Funded Projects with HBCUs and MSIs

Fostering and leveraging the talent and innovation at HBCUs and MSIs are key to addressing clean energy priorities ranging from community waste management to the production of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF). Providing opportunities for HBCU students to advance academically is essential to building a skilled workforce that can provide solutions to complex challenges with breakthroughs in technology and sustainability.

President Biden recently signed a second Executive Order on advancing racial equity and supporting underrepresented communities by improving opportunities in rural and urban communities. The first Executive Order boosted investments in underserved communities through increased funding to HBCUs and indigenous tribes and created new programs to help close racial disparities in job and housing opportunities. In support of the Biden-Harris administration’s priorities, BETO continues to invest in initiatives aimed at increasing STEM inclusion, expanding research opportunities, and supporting diverse solutions in the clean energy transition. A knowledgeable and well-trained workforce is essential for meeting future energy demands, and a growing bioenergy industry has the potential to create opportunities for individuals with diverse skills and training.

Several BETO-funded projects are making an impact by providing opportunities for skill expansion and research with HBCUs and MSIs:

BETO will continue to foster HBCU and MSI partnerships that accelerate the clean energy transition through innovation and job creation and by providing equitable opportunities to access government resources. By committing to building diversity, equity, and inclusion into project plans and community engagement, we can provide novel solutions and uncover bold new ideas for innovation to accelerate the clean energy transition.