Grant Aims to Improve Diversity in Aerospace Talent Pipeline

Cincinnati, OH, June 25, 2018 — The nonprofit Base 11 has received a $1.5 million gift to improve diversity in the aerospace talent pipeline. With the money, Base 11 will fund a grant to one Historically Black College or University (HBCU) to develop a hands-on, experiential rocketry program. This new initiative was announced Sunday at the bi-annual gathering of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, known as The Boulé, the oldest predominately African American fraternity in the world.

The commercial space industry is expected to become a $2.7 trillion economic sector in the next 30 years, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Yet the industry faces challenges in recruiting a diverse workforce.

“The African American workforce and entrepreneurial community was largely left behind by the tech boom in Silicon Valley, and we don’t want to see the same thing happen with the commercial space industry,” said Landon Taylor, Base 11 CEO.  “This grant will equip an HBCU with the seed capital and human capital needed to build a robust, long-term student rocketry program that can work in concert with industry to develop in-demand aerospace talent and launch new innovations that will harness space as the new frontier.”

The grant will fund the creation of a liquid-fuel rocketry lab on an HBCU campus, as well as the recruitment and hiring of an aerospace faculty leader to head the development and implementation of a world-class liquid fuel rocketry program within its engineering school.

Interested HBCUs will be able to apply for the grant through a competitive RFP process beginning in August 2018. The grant recipient is expected to be selected by the end of fall.

“Sigma Pi Phi is honored to support the next generation of aerospace talent, and ensure that young African Americans are part of the commercial space race,” said Wes Coleman, National President of Sigma Pi Phi. “We are proud to count among our members the leaders of many HBCUs and of Base 11, and look forward to working together to further our shared vision.”

The grant announcement comes just weeks after the public announcement of the Base 11 Space Challenge, a $1 million+ competition for the first student-led rocketry team to design, build and launch a liquid fuel rocket to 100 kilometers, the edge of space. The Base 11 Space Challenge was announced on June 6 in Compton, Calif., at Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum where youth in South Los Angeles can learn everything from piloting aircraft to building rockets. NASA Astronaut Leland Melvin headlined the event, where more than 120 leaders from aerospace, government and academia as well as student rocket team members gathered.

As a nonprofit, Base 11 is committed to solving two of the country’s biggest problems. First, the growing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) talent crisis, fueled by the underrepresentation of women and ethnic minorities. And secondly, the lack of a sustainable middle class inclusive of all Americans. In light of this mission, a private donor stepped forward with the $1.5 million grant to Base 11 to enable partnerships with HBCUs as a strategy to increase the representation of African American talent entering the commercial space industry.

“We hope that this is just the first of several grants, and that more partners will step forward to establish and support aerospace education at HBCUs,” said Dwayne Murray, who leads Sigma Pi Phi’s committee on HBCUs.

About Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity

Grand Boulé of the Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, a.k.a. the Boulé, is the first and oldest African American Greek-letter fraternal organization. It was founded in 1904, at a time when African American professionals were excluded from participating in the mainline professional, cultural and social associations. Sigma Pi Phi has approximately 5,000 members in 134 member boulés (externally known as chapters) throughout the United States, London England, and Nassau, The Bahamas. The members of Sigma Pi Phi are geographically dispersed domestically and abroad and represent the most accomplished pool of African American talent in the world. Their professional backgrounds include C-Suite leaders of public companies, private firms, and global leaders in fields of business, technology, medicine, law, politics, investment banking, real estate, accounting, private equity, academia and philanthropy. Sigma Pi Phi’s primary focus is on modeling leadership, education and civic responsibility in support of these endeavors and by mentoring young men and women, thereby advancing the African American community in all facets of equality, education, wealth creation and devotion to investing in the next generation of leaders.

About Base 11

Base 11 is a nonprofit workforce development accelerator focused on solving the STEM talent pipeline crisis being fueled by the underrepresentation of women and minorities. Base 11 facilitates partnerships with industry, academia and philanthropy which deliver to employers a pre-recruitment pipeline of well-trained, highly skilled STEM talent.  By establishing Innovation Centers integrated with hands-on project based learning and STEM entrepreneurship training, Base 11 and its partners set students on direct pathways to four-year STEM degrees, well paid STEM jobs, and the opportunity to launch their own STEM related business. For more information, please visit Base 11 is a DBA of the Center for Innovations in Education, a nonprofit 501(c) 3 – IRS exemption EIN# 26-4365936.