Reps. Serrano, Crowley Press NSF on Implementation of Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) Grant Program
Washington, DC – Congressmen José E. Serrano and Joseph Crowley sent a letter to National Science Foundation (NSF) Director France Córdova asking for an update on the agency’s implementation of the new Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) grant program. The program is key for educating and giving Hispanic students greater access to opportunities in the STEM fields:
“The new National Science Foundation’s Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) grant program will play a key role in giving Hispanics greater access to education, training and professional opportunities in the science and technology fields. We need to make sure that the NSF is quickly moving forward with the planning process for the funds that were appropriated for FY2017 and that they let the public know about funding availability. As the nation’s largest minority group, it is important to expand our efforts to reach Hispanic students interested in STEM fields and ensure they have the tools needed to thrive and succeed in the future,” said Congressman José E. Serrano, Ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the National Science Foundation.
“The fields of science, technology, engineering, and math are critical for our country to compete and for Americans to succeed in today’s global economy. But the dearth of Latinos in these fields is a serious problem we must address,” said Chairman Joe Crowley. “Establishing a grant program to help Hispanic-Serving Institutions of Higher Education (HSIs) build capacity in their STEM programs would be a critical first step toward helping Hispanic students obtain these good-paying jobs. I’m glad to join with Rep. Serrano in urging the National Science Foundation to follow Congress’s direction and implement of the Hispanic-Serving Institution program to expand access to STEM education to more Hispanic students across our country.”
FULL TEXT OF THE LETTER
The Honorable France A. Córdova, Ph.D.
National Science Foundation
4201 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22230
Dear Director Córdova:
We would like to inquire about the status of your agency’s implementation of the Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) grant program. Now that Congress has provided funding for this program’s establishment, we are interested in receiving an update on its implementation.
As you know, the America COMPETES Act (P.L. 110-69) first authorized the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish a HSI grant program to “enhance the quality of undergraduate science, mathematics, engineering and technology and to increase retention and graduation rates of students pursuing associate or baccalaureate degrees in science, mathematics, engineering, or technology.” In 2016, Congress passed further legislation, the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (P.L. 114-329), requiring the program’s implementation.
More recently, on May 4, 2017, as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017 (P.L. 115-31), Congress included $15 million to establish this HSI infrastructure development grant program within NSF. The explanatory statement accompanying the law specifically stated that Congress
...directs NSF to establish an Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) program at no less than $15,000,000 as authorized in 42 U.S.C. 1862o-12. The agreement encourages NSF to use this program to build capacity at institutions of higher education that typically do not receive high levels of NSF funding.
Since the end of Fiscal Year 2017 is fast approaching, we would like to inquire about progress made to date on the implementation of the program. We are particularly interested in the following questions regarding your agency’s implementation:
- What is the NSF’s plan for disbursing the appropriated funds in FY 2017?
- How does the NSF plan to define “high levels” of funding as stated in the law?
- When will NSF publish a notice of funding availability?
- What institutions have expressed interest, formally or informally, in applying for funds through this grant program?
- When can we expect a list of the institutions that have been awarded a grant and where will such list be published?
Finally, we understand a Dear Colleague letter was sent to institutions of higher education regarding the HSI program. Given our interest in learning how the NSF is engaging institutions on this program, we respectfully request that you provide a copy of this letter to our offices as well as to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees.
We thank you in advance for your attention to this important matter and we look forward to working with you toward our shared goal of improving the participation of Hispanic Americans in the STEM fields.
José E. Serrano Joseph Crowley
Member of Congress Member of Congress
Congressman José E. Serrano has represented The Bronx in Congress since 1990. He is a Senior member of the House Appropriations Committee.