This report presents findings from the process and summative (quasi-experimental) evaluation of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Undergraduate Program (HBCU-UP) of the National Science Foundation (NSF). HBCU-UP seeks to enhance the quality of undergraduate education and research in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) at HBCUs as a means to broaden participation in the nation’s STEM workforce. Findings suggest that the HBCU-UP program yielded an intervention model characterized by a core set of capacity-building strategies associated with successful student educational and employment outcomes. HBCU-UP graduates (mostly African Americans) outperform a national comparison sample in graduate degree completion and are more likely to be employed in STEM than African American graduates nationally. The report includes recommendations for future funding and dissemination.
The text below is an excerpt from the complete document. Read the entire report in PDF format.
Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs)
have a very special niche in the higher education system
in the United States. Although the education of
black slaves was banned in most Southern states, just
25 years after the Civil War approximately 100 colleges
and universities for African Americans had been
established, primarily in the South. All HBCUs
addressed three primary goals of educating black
youth, training teachers, and continuing the missionary
tradition by educated African Americans (Allen
and Jewell 2002).
A modification in 1890 of the Land Grant
Colleges Act of 1862 resulted in the rapid establishment
(by 1899) of several state-supported technical
and industrial colleges for African Americans in the
South (Allen and Jewell 2002; Wenglinsky 1997).
These institutions—together with existing private colleges,
which tended to provide a liberal arts education—
became the core of black postsecondary education
for the following 60 years (Wenglinsky 1997).
This "separate but equal" system of higher education
was severely underfunded at state and local levels
(Allen and Jewell 2002). A combination of factors—
among them lack of funding and outright hostility
on the part of the white Southern establishment—
conspired to limit the ability of these institutions to
provide equal educational opportunity to their target
After desegregation and Brown v. Board of Education,
when previously restricted traditionally white universities
reluctantly admitted African Americans, the national enrollment
of African Americans in colleges grew significantly.
Growth was accompanied by a shift in patterns of
where African Americans attended college: whereas in
1950 the great majority of African Americans were enrolled
in HBCUs, by 1975 three-quarters were attending
traditionally white institutions. The share of black students
enrolling in HBCUs declined over time (from
about one-quarter in the 90s to 19 percent in 2007), but
the share of degrees awarded to black students by
HBCUs is consistently larger than their share of enrollment,
suggesting higher student retention of black students
at HBCUs than at other institutions (Allen and
Jewell 2002; Wenglinsky 1997). Recent statistics suggest
that HBCUs continue to educate large numbers of black
students and enrollments experienced a 15 percent increase
between 1990 and 2007.
But HBCUs face a tremendous challenge in educating
a large share of African American postsecondary
students, as they continue to be underfunded and to
lack adequate resources (Freeman, Perna, and King
1999; Suitts 2003; Wenglinsky 1997). Consequently,
the National Science Foundation established a funding
program to assist HBCUs in building their institutional
capacity to educate students, called the
Historically Black Colleges and Universities Undergraduate
Program (HBCU-UP). This report is based
on the Urban Institute's evaluation of the HBCU-UP
program. The report consists of an introduction
that describes the role of HBCUs as producers of minority
scientists and engineers and identifies the goals
and characteristics of the HBCU-UP program.
Details regarding the methodology used to conduct
the evaluation and findings from the process and
summative components of the evaluation follow. The
report ends with a summary of key conclusions and
End of excerpt. The entire report is available in PDF format.
Usage and reprints: Most publications may be downloaded free of charge from the web site and may be used and copies made for research, academic, policy or other non-commercial purposes. Proper attribution is required. Posting UI research papers on other websites is permitted subject to prior approval from the Urban Institute—contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are unable to access or print the PDF document please contact us or call the Publications Office at (202) 261-5687.
Disclaimer: The nonpartisan Urban Institute publishes studies, reports, and books on timely topics worthy of public consideration. The views expressed are those of the authors and should not be attributed to the Urban Institute, its trustees, or its funders. Copyright of the written materials contained within the Urban Institute website is owned or controlled by the Urban Institute.