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New partnerships with minority-serving institutions are designed to improve the count while training young scientists

Washington, D.C. — The U.S. Census Bureau is teaming up with six
minority-serving higher education institutions to enlist help with its
data collection efforts for Census 2000 and to expand research
opportunities for minority students and faculty. The initiative was
announced at the Model Institutions for Excellence (MIE) national
conference held in San Juan Puerto Rico, April 29 – May 2.

Schools teaming up with the Census Bureau are Bowie State
University, Spelman College, Xavier University, Ogala Lakota College,
University of Texas-El Paso, and Universidad Metropolitana in Puerto
Rico. The six MIE institutions are part of a National Science
Foundation (NSF)/National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA)
programs that works with schools serving African American, Hispanic,
and Native American student populations.

Through their faculty and students, the schools have committed to
providing data collection support, mobilizing community support for
Census 2000, helping with volunteer recruitment efforts, and promoting
Census projects. The Census Bureau, in turn, will provide research data
to the schools, make job and internship opportunities available to
students and faculty, and provide promotional materials for Census 2000.

LaVerne Collins, a spokesperson for the Census Bureau, says details
of the school partnerships are still being ironed out, but she predicts
that activities should begin during the fall of the coming academic
year. Collins expects the schools will help the bureau develop a
nationwide outreach program that will target the college student
population for inclusion in Census 2000.

“We would like to have a program where the students would develop
an outreach program targeting other students around the country,” she
said. “I’m hoping we can move right ahead with [the outreach
initiative] in the fall.”

Collins added that the partnerships are intended to become
permanent so that the schools can continue to take advantage of Census
data and employment opportunities after the census is completed for the
year 2000.

“The thing that makes this program exciting is that we’re working
with a small number of schools that have the diversity of the
populations we serve. With a small group, we can get to know each
institution very well,” Collins says.

Dr. Etta Falconer, the MIE principal investigator at Spelman
College, says the institution’s officials are eager to get the
partnership underway. Falconer hopes to see at least twenty Spelman
students participate in Census Bureau summer internships next year. She
estimates that between 75 and 100 Spelman students will be working in
MIE internships with NASA and other federal agencies this summer.

Falconer added that Spelman faculty members will benefit from having direct access to Census data for their research.

Launched in 1994, the MIE program is designed to increase the
number of underrepresented minorities in science, engineering, and
mathematics fields. Initiatives focus largely on developing models of
high-quality science, engineering, and mathematics education at
colleges and universities.

“Within three years, our partner institutions are beginning to
experience increased retention rates among students in their science,
engineering, and mathematics degree programs,” said Dr. Albert
Bridgewater, program director for the NSF. “These increased rates can
be attributed to the institutions’ revamping entire systems by
enhancing student support activities, revising curricula, implementing
new technology, creating and requiring additional courses, and
strengthening linkages to graduate school programs.”

Bridgewater says the Census Bureau partnerships will provide both
scientific and math-oriented opportunities for students and faculty at
the six schools.

“The work of the Census Bureau involves computer science and
demographic fields of study.” he said. “There’s room for all types of
majors. It’s not just a narrow type of activity.”

COPYRIGHT 1998 Cox, Matthews & Associates

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