With the support of 43 chemical manufacturers and related industry stakeholders, the founding partners of the Future of STEM Scholars Initiative (FOSSI) recently announced the program surpassed its 2021 goal to fund scholarships for 150 students majoring in science, technology, engineering and math at historically Black colleges and universities. The program will support 151 scholars in its inaugural year, at an investment of $7.2 million. Multiyear commitments from sponsoring organizations have raised an additional $4 million in support of future scholars.
Launched last year by the American Chemistry Council, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, The Chemours Co. and the HBCU Week Foundation, FOSSI is the chemical industry's collaborative equity, diversity and inclusion initiative aimed at creating pathways for more underrepresented groups to enter and succeed in the chemical industry. FOSSI provides scholarship recipients $10,000 per year for four years, as well as opportunities for internships, mentoring and leadership training.
"I am proud to stand with the more than 40 ACC members and affiliates who have eagerly responded to our ambitious goal to raise $7.2 million in support of FOSSI in its inaugural year," said Chris Jahn, president and CEO, American Chemistry Council. "ACC and our members are committed to leading our industry in enhancing diversity in our facilities, our communities and nationwide."
Mark Vergnano is president and CEO of Chemours as well as ACC board chairman, founding chair of FOSSI. “As lead sponsor of FOSSI, Chemours is thrilled to bring our corporate responsibility commitment to action,” he said. “It is with the support of organizations like these that we can have a meaningful impact on the future workforce of the chemical industry."
Nearly 1,700 high school students across the nation applied for FOSSI scholarships, and the 151 scholarship recipients represent 26 states, with students planning to attend 23 HBCUs.
"The incredible interest we saw from these applicants illustrates the need this scholarship fills within our Black and brown communities,” said Ashley Christopher, founder and CEO of the HBCU Week Foundation. “The excitement from recipients and their families as we've notified each student has been overwhelming, and we are looking forward to building and growing the program to reach even more scholars in the future."
In welcoming the new FOSSI scholars, June Wispelwey, executive director and CEO of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, said, "AIChE's commitment to FOSSI exemplifies its IDEAL vision of driving inclusion, diversity, equity, anti-racism and learning, which is embodied in our foundation's All for Good: Engineering for Inclusion priority. Our leadership is ensuring that the success of both the FOSSI initiative and our FOSSI scholars will have profound impacts on the STEM professions. We are thrilled to be taking this active role in nurturing, inspiring and building the future workforce."
To learn more about FOSSI, visit aiche.org/fossi.