Initiatives for Institutions

HHMI provides grants to four-year colleges and universities to support sustainable institutional changes that result in the inclusion, persistence, and development of all students in the sciences.

News for Institutions

Next phases launch for the 2017 & 2018 "Inclusive Excellence" Competitions.

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HHMI promotes leadership in science education through peer-reviewed grants competitions for four-year colleges and universities. The competitions enable HHMI to highlight important national issues in science education, support science faculty in addressing these problems, and encourage institutions to become leaders in science education excellence.

Since 1988, each competition has built upon the accomplishments and lessons learned from the work conducted by past grantee institutions. That work has contributed to several advances in undergraduate science education, including:

  • Engaging large cohorts of undergraduates in authentic research, including course-based research experiences
  • Developing the teaching skills of undergraduate science and mathematics majors who plan to become teachers
  • Establishing approaches and practices to broaden participation so that students of all backgrounds are encouraged to learn science

Initiative for Universities

In 2014, HHMI selected 37 research universities to receive $60 million in grants to improve how science is taught. The initiative enables the schools to focus on significant and sustained improvement in retaining students in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. This competition specifically challenged universities to develop and implement strategies that would significantly increase the persistence in science of undergraduate students from all backgrounds.

Initiative for Colleges

As a result of the most recent initiative for colleges competition, held in 2012, HHMI selected 47 small colleges and universities in the United States as the recipients of grants totaling over $50 million to enable the schools to create more engaging science classes, bring real-world research experiences to students, and increase the diversity of students who study science. The principal activities of the programs are grouped into strategic themes, and as the schools carry out their programs, they have the opportunity to discuss strategies regularly with other schools working on a similar problem.

Inclusive Excellence

HHMI is currently conducting two competition rounds for its new initiative for institutions, Inclusive Excellence, one in 2017 and one in 2018, which aim to help institutions build their capacity to effectively engage all students in science throughout their undergraduate years, especially those who come to college via nontraditional pathways.

Drosophila neurons
Converging neurons in the central region of a Drosophila brain visualized using a method that stochastically labels cells. Cell bodies, inputs, and outputs of several different cell types are highlighted. (Image courtesy of Tanya Wolff. See Wolff, T., Iyer, N.A., and Rubin, G.M., 2015. J. Comp. Neurol. 523: 997-1037)

For the 2017 and 2018 Inclusive Excellence competitions, grantee colleges and universities will be awarded five-year, non-renewable $1 million grants to support efforts in inclusive science education. Successful applicants not only receive financial support through our Science Education grants to Institutions, but associated faculty and staff join a national community of science education leaders and advocates.

Program Directors of institutional grants have multiple opportunities to exchange ideas and learn from each other and the broader science education community. HHMI offers an orientation meeting for new directors, the Constellation Studio meetings twice per year for Program Directors and HHMI Professors, and mechanisms to collectively collaborate on specific shared topics of interest (e.g., development of assessment strategies).

Each competition has its own set of eligibility requirements.

Inclusive Excellence

HHMI is currently conducting two competition rounds, one in 2017 and one in 2018, for which both colleges and universities are eligible.

To be eligible for the 2017 or 2018 rounds, an institution must meet the following requirements:

  1. Be a not-for-profit, four-year institution in one of the following Basic Classification categories as identified by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (
    • Baccalaureate Colleges—arts and sciences focus and diverse fields
    • Baccalaureate/Associate’s Colleges
    • Master’s Colleges and Universities—larger, medium, and smaller programs
    • Doctoral/Research Universities—highest (R1), higher (R2), and moderate (R3) research activity
    • Tribal Colleges
  2. Offer four-year baccalaureate degrees in the natural sciences or offer a single baccalaureate degree that is inclusive of the natural sciences
  3. Be accredited and in good standing with the appropriate regional accrediting organization

Both the 2017 and 2018 rounds of Inclusive Excellence include a pre-proposal phase and institutions are required to submit an Intent to Apply prior to the pre-proposal.

HHMI selects finalists from the pre-proposals and invites those institutions to submit a full proposal. HHMI selects approximately 60 four-year colleges and universities over the two competition rounds, awarding each institution a five-year, $1 million grant.

The program announcement provides details about the Inclusive Excellence competitions. More information is available in news releases of May 2015 and May 2016, and Catalysis in the fall 2015 HHMI Bulletin.

2017 Program Dates

2018 Program Dates

Intent to Apply

Intent to Apply

Pre-proposal Application

Pre-preposal Application Due
December 6, 2016 2:00 pm ET

Invitation to submit full proposals

Invitation to submit full proposals
May 2017

Full Proposals Due
October 13, 2016

Full Proposals Due
October 2017

Announcement of Awards
May 2017

Announcement of Awards
May 2018

First Grant Payment
September 2017

First Grant Payment
September 2018