Internal Deadline
Sponsor Deadline
Posted: 3/10/2022

Creating Equitable Pathways to STEM Graduate Education

The Higher Education Program at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is seeking to invest in Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs)[1] and in the establishment of partnerships between MSIs and graduate programs at other colleges and universities. The Foundation’s Creating Equitable Pathways to STEM Graduate Education grants will support institutional pathways from MSIs to master’s and doctoral degree programs in astronomy, biology, chemistry, computer science, data science, Earth sciences, economics, engineering, marine science, mathematics, physics, and statistics.[2] Our intent is to facilitate the creation and strengthening of diverse, inclusive, and equitable pathways to and through STEM graduate education with the recognition that student pathways are too often disrupted by systemic racism, discrimination, and bias through prevailing institutional and departmental policy and practice. This is our second year announcing this call, inspired by the innovative work underway across the country and with the recognition that much more work needs to be done.

We invite Letters of Inquiry (LOIs) for projects that seek to dismantle systemic barriers and create sustainable pathways to graduate education in the stated disciplines for domestic Black, Indigenous, and Latina/o students. Compelling LOIs will result in the invitation of a full proposal. Submissions of LOIs are due no later than May 1, 2022 by 5:00pm EDT. 

Proposed projects may take multiple forms, including, for example, planning activities on MSI campuses that set the stage for new pathways between MSIs and graduate programs at other MSIs or at Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs) and projects that establish or scale existing mutually beneficial partnerships between undergraduate and graduate programs at two or more institutions, at least one of which must be a MSI. In addition to establishing seamless pathways, projects need to include efforts to address policies and practices that reinforce existing systems that act as barriers to access and success in graduate education for domestic Black, Indigenous, and Latina/o students. These could include efforts to examine and/or redesign graduate recruitment, admission policies and processes, mentoring practices, departmental climate, and other gatekeeping (or gateway) structures to and through STEM graduate education. Since the barriers to equitable pathways don’t end once students are admitted to graduate programs, the Foundation is looking for evidence that projects will promote and enhance existing efforts to reduce and eliminate policies, procedures, and institutional climates and cultures that prevent students from successfully navigating the pathways to attaining a graduate degree.

We request only one letter of inquiry (from the lead institutional partner) per institution, and only one submission per individual PI. We expect to award up to 3 Implementation grants, with additional funding going to Planning and Seed grants. Another Call for Letters of Inquiry is expected to take place in 2023 and 2024, during which time Planning and Seed grants funded in prior cycles will be eligible for an award to scale their efforts. Over time, it is expected that the Foundation will seek continue to invest in successful efforts.


  • Duke Internal: March 28, 2022
  • Letter of Intent: May 1, 2022
Eligibility Requirements

Institutions/organizations eligible as partners for the grant awards include:

  • Non-profit two- and four-year institutions
  • Institutional systems or consortia of institutions
  • Professional societies and associations
  • University-affiliated research centers or laboratories

All projects must have at least one MSI partner. When two or more institutions are the proposed grantees, it is preferred that the primary PI be housed at the MSI.

Lead investigators from submitting and partner institutions should be at the full, associate, or assistant professor level, a department chair, or in an administrative role with high connectivity to academic positions. Such individuals should come from non-profit two- and/or four-year institutions, or organizations that serve higher education professionals or institutions. Submissions from diverse teams led by women and Black, Indigenous, and Latina/o individuals are strongly encouraged.

Amount Description

Three types of grants will be funded:

  1. Planning grants to support two or more institutions to conduct internal reviews of existing barriers to student success and for analysis and planning for future systemic change partnerships/collaborations (Up to $75,000 for 1 year);
  2. Seed grants to support work at two or more institutions that seek to formalize existing systemic change partnerships/collaborations and launch one or more pilot initiatives (Up to $250,000 over 1-2 years); and
  3. Implementation grants to support work at two or more institutions that allow for the augmentation or scaling of existing systemic change partnerships/collaborations (Up to $500,000 over 2-3 years).
Internal Nomination

Owing to the sponsor's restriction on the number of applications that may be submitted from Duke, anyone wishing to pursue nomination should submit the following materials as one PDF:

  • 1 page project summary
  • specify Planning, Seed, or Implementation grant
  • PI name and contact info
  • collaborators names/institutions

Please submit internal materials through My Research Proposal. (Code ILN):

Instructions for creating an account (if needed) and submitting your materials: