United Way of South Hampton Roads African American Leadership Society
STEM Scholarship Program
We’re on a mission to increase opportunity for African American students and reduce the racial and gender gaps that currently exists in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). To support black youth and veterans pursing STEM degrees through higher education, United Way of South Hampton Roads’ African American Leadership Society created the STEM Scholarship Program funded by USAA.
This initiative is designed to provide scholarship and academic support for African American high school students and veterans who aspire to earn STEM degrees and pursue careers in the STEM field. The program enables highly capable young people and veteran adult students to pursue undergraduate STEM majors and prepares them for successful careers in a variety of STEM professions. The application is open to high school seniors and veterans entering college as first time freshman in fall 2021 or spring 2022. The program will award one-time scholarships to 120 African American students in 2021. Each scholarship recipient will receive up to $10,000 to use toward their education. Females will account for 50% of scholarship recipients and 25% will be awarded to applicants who qualify as first generation college students.
Driven by Data
Research shows that black youth, particularly black females, are underrepresented in STEM-related fields both at the academic and professional levels. In fact:
- Blacks make up 11% of the U.S. workforce overall but only represent 9% of STEM workers
- Among employed adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher, blacks are just 7% of the STEM workforce
- Women of color account for just 2.9% of those earning bachelor’s degrees in STEM fields
- Only 20% of undergraduates attending four-year institutions are first generation college students and 50% of those students are from low-income families
To qualify, applicants must:
- Be African American
- Be a citizen, legal permanent resident or national of the U.S.
- Be a current resident of Hampton Roads (Chesapeake, Franklin, Hampton, Isle of Wight, Newport News, Norfolk, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Virginia Beach, Williamsburg)
- Have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 on an unweighted 4.0 scale
- Have pursued a rigorous course of study in high school math and science courses, including precalculus
- Have demonstrated unmet financial need as measured by the student’s college or university
- Show readiness and commitment to pursuing a STEM-related degree
- Be enrolled to attend an accredited U.S. college or university in the fall as a full-time, degree-seeking, first-year student
- Complete the standard application information and assigned essay by the deadline
Note: African American veterans with honorable discharge pursuing a STEM related college degree for the first time are also eligible
- One-time tuition scholarship with funding up to $10,000
- Academic support and mentoring
- Student application form
- Personal essay
- One completed reference form
2021 Application Schedule
- March 1: Portal opens for application submissions
- April 30: Deadline to submit application
- May 7 – May 13: Panel review of applications
- May 18 – May 28: Virtual interviews with select applicants
- June 1: Awards announced
Here are some things you can do to prepare for a competitive application:
- Talk to parents, counselors, mentors and teachers about your plans and how to be a strong candidate for college admission and student aid.
- Carefully consider which teacher or STEM program sponsor to ask for a reference letter. You should select an individual who has engaged in your STEM learning during the school year or summer and who can provide insight into your academic performance and potential for success in pursuing a STEM degree.
- Apply for federal student aid. Go to www.FAFSA.ed.gov to familiarize yourself with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and to get more information on federal student aid. If you are a finalist, we will use this form to confirm your citizenship and better understand your financial needs.
- Review your transcript to ensure your GPA and coursework meet the eligibility requirements and keep your grades up so your mid-year transcript is favorable.
- Let our advisory panel get to know you through a well written essay that conveys how your interests, goals, motivation and experiences have shaped your decision to pursue an undergraduate STEM degree.
- Robin Byrd | Area Manager Director, UNCF
- Tom Hasty | Senior Executive Vice President Regulatory Compliance, TowneBank
- Cheryl Jones | Vice President of Programs, Access College Foundation
- Aliecia McClain | Associate Dean College of Science, Engineering and Technology, Norfolk State University
- Toiya Sosa | Public Affairs Executive, GEICO
- Aubrey Thomas | Lead Experience Manager, USAA
- Ashley Woodous | Program Administrator, Access College Foundation
This program is led by United Way of South Hampton Roads’ African American Leadership Society, a group of over 250 professionals passionate about empowering African American communities and improving social equity in the 757. Partners include UNCF and Access College Foundation, and funding is provided by a generous grant from USAA.
Thank you to our partners: