Millions of dollars and countless hours of work have done little to "move the needle" towards the desired outcome of achieving the full participation of diverse individuals in all facets of STEM. According to Dr. Alicia Knoedler who serves on NSF’s Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science and Engineering (CEOSE), states that the “cumulative, overall impact on underrepresented groups is minimal.” To address this shortcoming, CEOSE released a list of recommendations to the NSF in their 2011-2012 report to implement a bold new initiative to fund broadening participation through institutional transformation and systems change using clear benchmarks of success, longitudinal data, and significant financial support. NSF Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science (INCLUDES) is what emerged from this report, along with adoption of a framework to ensure shared accountability to promote participation and excellence.
INCLUDES, a division of the Office of Integrative Activities (OIA) will fund conferences, launch site, alliances and hubs across the country designed to address broadening participation from all sectors and groups in our society through sustained partnerships and networks. In 2016, the first round of INCLUDES funding was disseminated using the RFP process. Applicants were required to focus their efforts on collective impact as a foundational practice and framework to carry their proposed work forward. INCLUDES recognizes the existing role research centers play in supporting innovative programs and ushering underserved populations towards the STEM careers. INCLUDES believes the key to making these efforts even more impactful and sustainable lies in working collaboratively with a group of committed partners to scale-up and move the existing work forward. Solicitations for 2018 proposals have been announced through the NSF INCLUDES web site.
The 3-day INCLUDES Summit, held next door to the NSF headquarters in Alexandria, VA on January 8-10th, brought over 150 representatives from centers and other large NSF grantees to share information about their ongoing diversity activities, brainstorm about how collective impact strategies can be used to broaden participation, and network to identify opportunities to mobilize and act together through intentional team activities. CHESS representative Lora Gruber-Hine participated in the poster session, talks and networking opportunities. Feedback from participants was collected by the session facilitators and skill artists who created visual representations of the big ideas generated throughout the course of each interactive session. The next step involves connecting with individuals from across the spectrum of NSF-funded centers and facilities that share a similar, yet specific, broadening participation vision.