Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg Philanthropies have announced the launch of the Vivien Thomas Scholars Initiative that addresses historic underrepresentation in STEM fields.

The $150 million effort announced this week is funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies and will create additional paths for students and historically Black colleges and universities and minority-serving institutions to pursue and receive doctorates in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

“STEM fields play an increasingly important role in developing innovative solutions to a wide range of pressing challenges, yet STEM Ph.D. programs don’t reflect the broad diversity of our country” Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies and a former mayor of New York City, said in the joint release with Johns Hopkins. “So, creating more equitable opportunities for more students is critical to our country’s future.”

According to National Science Foundation data collected in 2019, there were more than 30 fields of science — including multiple disciplines in biology, chemistry, physics, math, and engineering — in which fewer than five doctorates were awarded to Black or Latinx students in the United States, the joint press release said.

While Black Americans make up 13% of the U.S. population and Latinos 18%, in 2019 they received just 3% and 7%, respectively, of new engineering, math, physical sciences and computer science doctorates, the organizations said, citing NSF data.

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This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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