Increasing opportunity for Black students and reducing the racial and gender gaps in STEM fields
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 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 currently enrolled college students and high school seniors and veterans entering college as first-time freshman in the Fall of 2024. 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 or higher
- Have pursued a rigorous course of study in high school math and science courses, including precalculus
- Show readiness and commitment to pursuing a STEM-related degree
- Plan to be enrolled or currently enrolled in an accredited U.S. college during the 2024-2025 academic year as either a full or part time degree seeking student
- Complete the scholarship application by the deadline
- Note: Currently enrolled college STEM majors are also eligible to apply if they are residents of South Hampton Roads.
- One-time tuition scholarship with funding up to $10,000
- Academic support and mentoring
- October 1: Portal opens for application submissions
- November – December: Virtual interviews with applicants
- January: 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.
- 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 | AVP and Chief Diversity Officer, Riverside Health System
- Aubrey Thomas | Lead Experience Manager, USAA
- Ashley Woodous | Program Administrator, Access College Foundation
For questions or assistance, please email
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.