Chemical industry organizations have launched a new scholarship program in coordination with the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Week Foundation to create the Future of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) Scholars Initiative (FOSSI). FOSSI is planned as the first of several efforts to address the needs of underrepresented groups with a goal to support 150 students majoring in STEM at HBCUs in the initiative’s first year. The project’s founding partners outside of HBCU Week Foundation include the American Chemistry Council (ACC), the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), and Chemours.

HBCU Week Foundation will serve as the scholarship administrator for the initiative. As of December 2020, the scholarship fund had achieved $4.6 million toward an initial funding goal of $7.2 million in 2021. The effort also has multiyear pledges totaling more than $10 million, including $5 million from Chemours and $1.9 million from Dow. The first round of scholarship applications was due in February 2021. Scholarships will be supplemented with internships, mentoring, and career development.

Two of the partners in the scholarship effort, ACC and AIChE, are also launching a workforce development and mentoring program to support growth, promotion, and advancement of underrepresented groups into leadership positions within the broader chemical industry. The focus will be on early-career candidates with less than 5 years of experience as well as senior leadership with a minimum of 10 years of experience to develop C-level candidates. The workforce development efforts are part of larger efforts already underway for equity and diversity at ACC and AIChE.

ACC, Washington, DC, is an industry group that represents companies in the chemistry business. AIChE, New York, NY, promotes excellence in chemical engineering education and global practice. Chemours, Wilmington, DE, is a global chemistry company with 37 manufacturing and laboratory sites in more than 120 countries. HBCU Week Foundation Inc.’s mission is to encourage high-school-aged youth to enroll in HBCUs, provide scholarship dollars for matriculation, and sustain an employment pipeline from undergraduate school to corporate America.