Congressman José E. Serrano

Representing the 15th District of New York

America Competes Act with Language to Establish HSI Undergrad Grant Approved in Congress Last Week

Dec 22, 2016
Press Release
Crowley and Serrano Offered Amendment in House version to Ensure that NSF Director Establishes Program; Bill Now Heads to the President for His Signature

The Bronx, NY – U.S. Congressmen José Serrano and Joe Crowley today announced that language which would require the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish a grant program to support undergraduate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education at Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) was approved in Congress last week as part of the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act, also known as America COMPETES Act. In 2015, Serrano and Crowley offered an amendment to the House version of the bill to ensure that NSF establish a program focused on HSIs. The final Senate version contains substantially similar language in Section 315 requiring the NSF’s director to award merit-based grants to HSIs.

“Hispanics continue to be underrepresented in STEM fields, and without a dedicated program to help institutions that serve primarily Hispanic students, that will continue to be the case.  Hispanic Serving Institutions need to have the necessary financial resources to help encourage more students to pursue careers in the sciences, and this provision will ensure that HSIs have just that.  I am pleased to see this important measure included in the America COMPETES act; investing in Hispanics’ education in the science fields is investing in the future competitiveness of our country,” said Congressman Serrano.

“Encouraging traditionally underrepresented minorities, such as Hispanics, to enter STEM fields is imperative for our country to remain competitive in today’s global economy,” said Rep. Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx). “This dedicated grant program for HSIs is a pivotal step in supporting Hispanic students poised to become our next scientists, engineers and leaders of tomorrow. It’s an investment that will open doors of opportunity for countless communities while growing our talent pool, and I’m thrilled this piece of legislation is on its way to the president’s desk.”

"The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) commends the members of the 114th Congress for passing the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act. We are especially grateful to Representatives Joseph Crowley and Jose Serrano for their steadfast commitment to and support of Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs),” said HACU President and CEO, Antonio R. Flores. “The final bill includes language that directs the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish a much-needed competitive grant program for HSIs. HACU has advocated for such a program for many years in view of the national need to increase Hispanic participation in the STEM workforce. We look forward to engaging with the leadership of the NSF in the development of an effective program."

In the 114th Congress, Serrano and Crowley introduced the Hispanic Opportunity Program in Education and Science Act (HOPES Act), H.R. 1924, to require NSF to establish a HSI undergraduate program. This bill inspired the amendment to the America COMPETES Act.