Catalyst

 

The Benjamin Banneker Institute for Science and Technology

There is a community of interest that has been struggling for over a decade with both the low performance and the low participation rates of African Americans in science and math related studies and professions. We believe it is time to take stock of all that work, and determine if it is possible to combine efforts and results in such a way as to catapult both performance and participation rates forward. To that end, with Congressional support, we have formed the Banneker Institute for Science and Technology to begin that conversation and add value to the pursuit. In particular, we are interested in identifying, creating, and/or supporting pilot projects designed to demonstrate the effectiveness the most promising approaches.

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.

On November 17, 2004, upwards of 100 Black scientists, educators, and political leaders came to Washington, DC for the launch of this initiative. Noted neurosurgeon, Dr. Ben Carson, delivered the keynote address. The Institute’s agenda for its first year of operation includes developing a media driven approach to making stars out of Black scientists, planning an awards ceremony to recognize contributions to its mission, and designing a Center of Excellence for one or more feeder patterns in the District of Columbia Public Schools. Its longer term agenda is to perform studies, develop curricula, provide technical assistance to Black colleges to build their strength, and then to branch out across the nation to high schools, and through them in pipeline fashion to lower grades. The Banneker Institute will identify African American along all dimensions of the science and technology spectrum -- academically, professionally, and institutionally -- and build a database that links them into a cooperative network. 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 Benjamin Banneker Institute for Science and Technology website: www.thebannekerinstitute.org