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USA Energy: Northwest Indian College to Receive Up to $5 Million STEM Grant From Office of Environmental Management’s Minority Serving Institutions Partnership Program

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Northwest Indian College (NWIC) of Bellingham, Washington will be awarded a grant up to $5 million to train future scientists and engineers through the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management’s (EM) recently expanded Minority Serving Institutions Partnership Program (MSIPP).

Established in 2014, the EM MSIPP is designed to help maintain a well-trained, technically skilled and diverse workforce by partnering with Minority Serving Institutions (MSI) to develop highly qualified science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) students.

To date, EM’s MSIPP has supported 21 institutions across 13 states. This is the first time an award is going to an accredited Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCU) institution. NWIC is the only accredited TCU in the Pacific Northwest, home to EM’s Hanford Site.

The Hanford Site is located on the homelands of the Yakama, Umatilla, Wanapum and Nez Perce tribes, all of which participate in DOE decision making. Enhancing the opportunities available to tribal students will benefit the federal government and tribes. Over 75% of NWIC students come from federally recognized Indian tribes, representing over 90 different tribal nations.

“The EM MSIPP partnership will provide NWIC students with unique opportunities to receive hands-on education and experience as part of developing a pipeline of qualified individuals to become the future workforce for the Department,” said Deputy Energy Secretary David M. Turk, who was visiting the Hanford Site in eastern Washington state this week.

The EM MSIPP is also directly related to the Biden administration’s efforts to diversify the workforce and create a pipeline of new STEM employees. As part of DOE’s new Equity Action Plan, the Department has committed up to $102 million in funding to support Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other MSIs as foundations to cultivate world-class talent in the STEM fields.

EM’s partnership with NWIC will support the development of a more diverse and engaged scientific and engineering workforce to conduct research that will expand career opportunities. EM is carrying out environmental cleanup at sites that were and are involved in U.S. nuclear weapons development and nuclear research. NWIC offers a Bachelor of Science degree in Native Environmental Science and other curricula directly related to the long-term missions of the Hanford Site.

“We were impressed,” EM Senior Advisor William “Ike” White said of NWIC. “It is a diverse student body, ranging from students straight out of high school to returning adult learners of all ages. We want to encourage these students to consider joining us at the Department of Energy.”

Nicole Nelson-Jean, EM associate principal deputy assistant secretary for field operations, has visited several schools that are part of EM’s MSIPP. She plans to visit NWIC in northwest Washington state tomorrow.

“Visiting these campuses instantly reminds me of the importance the EM MSIPP holds not only for EM and our need for diverse talent, but also our needs as a nation for the next generation of STEM professionals,” Nelson-Jean said.

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