NOAA 2000-018
Contact: Jana Goldman


NOAA's National Sea Grant College Program has issued a call for proposals to expand opportunities for minorities in marine and coastal science education at both the undergraduate and graduate level the Commerce Department announced today.

The new proposal call expands to more minority serving institutions (MSIs) a Sea Grant pilot program that originated in the mid-1990s at five historically black colleges and universities. The program will now include educational institutions identified as Hispanic-Serving Institutions, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and Minority Serving Institutions.

The original pilot program included Clark-Atlanta University, Delaware State University, Hampton University, Savannah State University, and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

"We see this as an opportunity to encourage more students at minority serving institutions to consider marine and coastal studies," said Ronald Baird, director of the National Sea Grant College Program. "Through this partnership, Sea Grant can work together with these educational institutions to reach a previously untapped wealth of students."

Under the Sea Grant Minority Serving Institutions Partnership Program, approximately $300,000 will be available yearly to fund projects on a competitive basis. Half of that amount will be reserved for proposals related to aquaculture in partnership with the Department of Commerce's Minority Business Development Agency. Sea Grant expects to fund four to six projects annually at up to $75,000 per year in federal funds, for up to three years. Required matching funds from non-federal sources in a ratio of $1 for every $2 in federal funds will expand the projects' impacts at the local community level.

A 1998 National Science Foundation report indicated that the percentage of scientists and engineers in the workforce ranges from 0.3 percent for American Indians to 3.4 percent for African-Americans and 2.8 percent for Hispanics. Specific figures are not available for marine science in particular, but according to James Arrington, vice president for academic affairs at South Carolina State University and a member of the National Sea Grant Review Panel, "There is every reason to believe the percentages to be similar if not lower. Our goal with this program is to increase the capacity of MSIs to promote and launch more students into marine science careers."

The four main goals of the program are:

  • To significantly increase the exposure of undergraduate minority students to marine and coastal sciences and to increase the participation of under-represented minorities in the marine sciences;
  • To enhance the quality of undergraduate majors and graduate studies to facilitate entrance into existing marine science graduate programs or marine careers;
  • To accelerate the development of strong partnerships between MSIs and other universities and/or public, non-profit, or private sector organizations engaged in the marine sciences or related fields; and,
  • To encourage graduate research, student experiential internships, and faculty development opportunities between MSIs and other academic and/or research institutions and agencies.

Applicants can work with and submit proposals through the 29 state Sea Grant programs across the country. Sea Grant, through its 29 programs and 200 university partners, encourages wise stewardship of marine resources through research, education, outreach, and technology transfer.