The Benjamin Banneker Institute for Science and Technology (BBIST)
The Banneker Institute was founded, with support from Congress, to combine many of the existing initiatives addressing low performance and participation rates of African Americans in science and math related studies and professions. The Institute will work to identify, create, and/or support pilot projects designed to demonstrate the effectiveness of the most promising approaches.
The mission includes the following elements:
- To cause African Americans to identify with, to see themselves as excellent in, and to choose to pursue science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers and fields of study.
- To increase resource availability so that all African Americans who aspire to pursue STEM careers will have sufficient support.
- To identify and take to scale programs with demonstrated success at increasing the number of African Americans who choose to pursue STEM careers and fields of study.
- To identify, assemble, and promulgate information about individuals, institutions, and programs involved in increasing the number of African Americans who choose to pursue STEM careers and fields of study.
- To ensure that the educational pipeline is adequately populated at all levels with African American students preparing to pursue STEM careers and fields of study.
The country’s appetite for workers skilled in math, science, engineering, and other technically relevant disciplines is insatiable. It is, therefore, a matter of national concern that there persists a segment of our population, members of the African American community, that is consistently under-represented in these fields at all levels ofsociety. African Americans are not rigorously trained in science, math, and engineering in High School, they do not major in science, math, and engineering in representative numbers in college, and their presence among the ranks of PhD’s in these fields is negligible. As a consequence, the number who are adequately prepared to enter this high-demand workforce is vanishingly small. Continuation of this circumstance will only exacerbate the disparities in our society, because increasingly, future high-level employment will require exposure to, and facility with these disciplines.
Many efforts exist that are designed to address this problem, but they do not operate at sufficient scale to have a significant impact. The Benjamin Banneker Institute for Science and Technology will operate in the field to create sufficient scale, and will provide the focus necessary to garner additional resources and guide them to efficient uses most likely to yield large scale, long term results. The Banneker Institute will create sufficient scale by adding the dimension of the network to the resources which already exists. It will increase efficiency by focusing on centers of excellence.
The agenda of the Institute for the first year is fourfold. It will define the status of African Americans along all dimensions of the science and technology spectrum, academically, professionally, and institutionally, and build a database to track same. As a corollary to this work, it will create and maintain a network of relationships among people and institutions working on this issue. It will design negotiate the relationships necessary to establish, and develop an implementation plan for a center of excellence in science and technology education in Washington, DC as a model for the nation. It will follow design criteria that take into consideration the 21st century educational needs of the nation, and will incorporate any changes in the learning environment, curriculum, educational technology, instructional delivery systems necessary to model for the nation what we need to do in order to build for ourselves a system of public education adequate to serve the needs of the information age in America. Finally, it will develop and implement a financing strategy to fund its future operations that will engage the support of foundations, corporations, and other philanthropists over the long term.
The mission of the Banneker Institute is to increase access to, and participation and performance in science and math related professions and academic pursuits by African Americans. The Institute proposes to enable more rapid identification and implementation of success models by serving as an information clearinghouse for monitoring the state of the art, identifying best practices, creating opportunities for collaboration, funding and otherwise promoting pilot projects, and granting an annual Banneker Award to honor the contributions of those making significant progress in support of the Institute’s mission.
The Banneker Institute does not develop, implement, nor operate hands on programs, or engage in service delivery of any kind. The Banneker Institute exists to build capacity, create networks, and expand available resources in a manner designed to increase the effectiveness and/or scale of operation of proven programs already in place.