Higher Education Grants or Gifts of Interest to African Americans

Here is this week’s news of grants or gifts to historically Black colleges and universities or for programs of particular interest to African Americans in higher education.

Historically Black Tennessee State University has received a grant of nearly $5 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for sustainable hemp fiber research that will promote market development of industrial hemp supply as a climate-smart commodity through incentives to underserved Tennessee growers enrolled in the program. The funds will be used to provide support and incentives to historically underserved farmers owning up to 500 acres to grow fiber hemp. The fiber hemp will then be processed and supplied to the motor vehicle industry as raw materials for manufacturing critical motor vehicle parts such as fabrics and bioplastics The project is being led by Emmanuel Omondi, assistant professor of agronomy at Tennessee State. Dr. Omondi is a graduate of the University of Nairobi in Kenya. He holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in agronomy from the University of Wyoming.

African Americans are more likely to be living with HIV than other racial and ethnic groups. One of the significant factors related to HIV disease management is smoking status, as smoking negatively impacts HIV treatment, and people with HIV are more likely to smoke relative to the general population. The University of Houston received a $1.3 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse for the development of a mobile intervention for Black American smokers who are infected with HIV.

The Quantum Biology Laboratory at historically Black Howard University in Washington, D.C., received a $1 million grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Researchers in the lab will use the funding to build upon its previous work in modeling and measuring how quantum optical effects in cytoskeletal networks enable living matter to process information in ultrafast communication channels. The lab seeks answers to questions such as: How do living systems arise from nonliving matter? How does life organize from biomolecular building blocks? What is the role that light plays in the origins of life itself? The lab is under the direction of Philip Kurian, who holds a Ph.D.from Howard University.

Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, has received a $399,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support a three-year applied learning research curricular project on voting rights. Bard College is collaborating on the project with three historically Black universities — North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Tuskegee University, and Prairie View A&M University – and the Andrew Goodman Foundation. The crux of the project will study how the 26th Amendment, which lowered the voting age from 21 to 18 and outlawed age-based voter discrimination, impacted voter disenfranchisement while also focusing on the role of college communities in the fight for voting rights.

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