5 STEM Grants and Scholarships for African-Americans

STEM careers are growing at a much faster rate than other industries. The growth is apparent on both the national and global levels. There are many opportunities available to Blerds who have a strong interest in pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Here are five grant and scholarship programs created to support innovation, education and entrepreneurship in the STEM fields.

1. Small Business Innovation Research

Five years ago, entrepreneur Kendra Ough attended a Small Business Innovation Research conference. While there, she discovered that there was funding available for small businesses with big ideas.

The Small Business Innovation Research program has been around for more than 30 years with the primary goal of supporting small businesses plan development. They provide grant money to fund research and development, which inevitably gives small businesses a competitive edge in the global marketplace.

There are several agencies that participate in the government-funded program, such as the Department of Agriculture, Education, and Transportation. The basic eligibility requirements include a three-phase process. Some additional requirements are: 50 percent of the business must be owned or controlled by one or more individuals who are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents; the business cannot have more than 500 employees; and it must be for profit and located in the U.S.

*Please note that every participating agency has its own additional guidelines. Visit the SBIR site for additional information on eligibility requirements.

2. New York State Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics

This past May, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the launch of the New York State Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Incentive Program. The Higher Education Services Corporation-funded grant is designed to encourage high school students interested in STEM majors in college.

To be eligible for the grant, students must attend a New York state high school, be ranked in the top 10 percentile of their class, and enroll full time in a State University of New York (SUNY) or City University of New York (CUNY) school. For more information visit the HESC website.

3. Conrad Spirit of Innovation Challenge

The goal of The Conrad Foundation is to promote innovation and entrepreneurship. One way the foundation accomplishes this is through the Conrad Spirit of Innovation Challenge. The program, which supports future inventors, scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs, was created in 2008 in honor of astronaut Charles “Pete” Conrad Jr.

There is a five-step process to becoming a Conrad Scholar through the Conrad Spirit of Innovation Challenge.
The first step to is to join a team and register for the challenge. Registration is currently open but will end on Oct. 16, 2014.

The second step is to develop an idea or a solution to current problem in one of the four industries: aerospace and aviation; energy; environment and energy; cyber-technology and security; and health and nutrition.

The third step is the initial round and also referred to as the “Investor Pitch.” This pitch is submitted in the form of a short video where teams describe why their innovative idea is valuable. This video is submitted online.

If a team moves on to the second round, which is the fourth step, they will present a business or technical plan that will be a developed from the pitch presented in the initial round. This is also submitted online.

For the final step, teams that advance to the final round will present their innovations in person through marketing and Q&A’s.

If a team wins the third round, the participants will be honored as a Conrad scholars. This honor affords them an opportunity to access seed funding for their innovations, patent support, as well as additional scholarship funding.

4.The STEMPREP Program at Southern Methodist University

Southern Methodist University is on a mission to increase education and resources for middle-school minority students with an interest in STEM-related careers.

This year the U.S. Department of Defense offered the enrichment program $2.6 million to fund the program. The program promotes early awareness in STEM subjects. and those who complete it often become college graduates and pursue careers in the STEM fields.

The STEMPREP program is available to students anywhere in the U.S. who qualify. Students usually enter the program in their seventh-grade year. If they are successful in the summer program (based on behavior and academics), the student has a chance of being invited back each year until the program ends in the 10th grade.

For a student to be eligible they must complete the application, write an essay, take the SSAT, a standardized exam for students interested in admission to independent schools, and they must provide transcripts from their past three years in school.

The program is an excellent opportunity for students because after their 10th grade year the program helps them access other opportunities, such as research work with the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Many of the students who complete the program often become college graduates and pursue careers in the STEM fields.

5.MIT 100K

MIT100K is a dynamic program that has been supporting future entrepreneurs in the STEM fields for the past 25 years.

Through this competition-based program, like-minded individuals from MIT and the outside community come together to strengthen their skills and build on their talents to create new tech firms for the future.
Each year MIT100K awards hundreds of thousands of dollars to winners to help them start their businesses.