Diversity in STEM refers to increasing the representation and cultivating the talents of people from all backgrounds in science, technology, engineering, and math fields, especially underrepresented students of color and those from low-income and first-generation to college backgrounds to enter clean energy industries.
Why Diversity in STEM
There are over 20 million young people of color in the U.S. that are currently in STEM education pathways or the STEM workforce, and those numbers are far below their numbers in the general population.
Get Involved: Current Diversity in STEM Programs at EERE
- FIRST Robotics Competition: a five-week-long challenge for high school students that aims to engage young people in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to inspire the next generation of innovators and leaders.
- GEM Fellowship Program: provides minority M.S. or Ph.D. students with summer internships at employer members while University members provide Fellows with scholarships and stipends to top Universities.
- EERE MSI Research Challenge (MSI STEM R&D Consortium—MSRDC): a member group of over 70+ MSIs that serves as a united effort to gain a larger share of research awards with federal government agency partners.
- EERE Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize: A $2.0–$2.5M prize (awarding $200,000–$250,000 to up to 10 organizations) for ongoing or proposed activities that support underrepresented groups and organizations with incubation, acceleration, and other community-based innovation services.
- JUMP into STEM: a building science undergraduate and graduate student competition that inspires students to create solutions to solve real world problems while incorporating diversity. JUMP into STEM connects professors and students with U.S. Department of Energy National Laboratory researchers and industry to accelerate building decarbonization.
Diversity in STEM at EERE
The Diversity in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) in Clean Energy Industries Initiative at EERE aims to raise awareness of clean energy research and job opportunities at minority-serving institutions (MSIs) and minority professional organizations to ensure that non-governmental organizations receiving EERE funding are integrating diversity and equity in their own work.
EERE recognizes to achieve its mission, we need to develop a diverse technical base of talent in everyday research that is performed within our offices and the national laboratory complex.
EERE aims to increase awareness and engagement of diverse Americans in the energy sector in the following ways:
- Expanding our STEM pipeline development programs (including K-12 and community college efforts)
- Establishing new research partnerships among underutilized MSI’s across the country, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI’s), Tribal colleges or universities, Asian American and native American Pacific Islander-serving institutions as well as Alaskan and Hawaiian native-serving institutions.
- Initiating energy-related STEM education and training programs, with a special effort to raise capabilities at Historically Black Colleges, Tribal Colleges, and other Minority Serving Institutions, along with encouraging the growth of affiliated minority businesses and enterprises, in order to diversify the future Clean Energy workforce.
- Developing creative partnerships with other government agencies to utilize best current STEM programming that resides outside of DOE in order to support programs that can help diversify clean energy industries for the future.
To achieve our goals and strengthen our stakeholder framework and engagement, we have set up the Diversity Strategy Framework that employs Inspire, Initiate and Integrate, or the I3 strategy.
Diversity Strategy Framework
- Inspire - This includes pre-K through 12th grade pathway development activities, plus some undergraduate, graduate, and professional activities to attract future and current underrepresented STEM candidates into clean energy industries. Internally, this will include shorter term initiatives meant to inspire our internal workforce through different recognition and support mechanisms.
- Initiate - New ideas across program offices to encourage diversity in STEM in clean energy industries. This includes new and expanded efforts to lower barriers to entry in working with EERE for HBCUs, other MSIs, and minority businesses through unique funding vehicles to utilize, and finding more interagency working partnerships to further our effectiveness in growing the STEM pipeline.
- Integrate - Taking successful initiated efforts and finding ways to integrate these diverse programs into our daily business practices in order to give program offices more tools to increase their presence within underrepresented STEM communities.
STEM-Related Interagency Agreements
- EERE’s Interagency Agreement with the National Science Foundation (NSF) allows EERE to partner and fund best practice STEM programs at NSF that will give EERE the ability to support the generation of various workforce and research programs, support of faculty and curriculum improvements, and support of general STEM enhancements, all based around clean energy industries.
- EERE’s Interagency Agreement with the Department of the Army allows us to partner with the MSI Minority-Serving Institution (MSI) STEM R&D Consortium (MSRDC) to directly fund research and development projects through a consortium of over 70 Minority-Serving Institutions, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI).
Diversity and Equity Priorities in the Federal Government
Research shows that federal government engagement with MSIs has been low, and that increased engagement and recruitment at MSIs will expand our demographics to achieve a STEM workforce that more accurately represents and reflects our diverse nation.
EERE shares the Biden Administration’s vision of equity in Executive Order 13985 – Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Workforce, and our vision of many different, educated perspectives converge in STEM to help solve the biggest challenges of today.
We are working with our partners in the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity and the Justice40 Initiative which directs 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal investments, many of which pertain to EERE, including investments in clean energy and energy efficiency, clean transit, affordable and sustainable housing, training and workforce development, the remediation and reduction of legacy pollution, and the development of clean water infrastructure–to flow to disadvantaged communities.
Diversity in STEM News & Stories
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