Inclusive Excellence 3

The HHMI Inclusive Excellence 3 (IE3) initiative challenges U.S. colleges and universities to substantially and sustainably build their capacity for student belonging, especially for those who have been historically excluded from the sciences. IE3 is distinct from previous HHMI science education initiatives because it begins with a learning phase and, during that phase, learning communities envision how to move cooperatively into an implementation phase.

In the News

104 schools receive IE3 grants

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Our Challenge

The dynamic demographics of the U.S. population present a historic and compelling opportunity. All students, regardless of where they come from and where they are going, deserve a meaningful and positive experience in science through which they will better understand and engage in scientific thinking and discovery. The quality of that experience is the responsibility of the faculty and administrators who play an essential role in defining an institution’s culture. 

Unfortunately, there exist substantial disparities between students who arrive at college via different pathways. Students who are first in their families to attend college, students who transfer from 2-year to 4-year schools, and students from racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups underrepresented in science are significantly less likely to complete the baccalaureate degree.

Our Approach

Inclusive Excellence 3 (IE3) is the third round of IE funding which, like the first two rounds, will provide institutional grants to four-year colleges and universities that will each work to build capacity for inclusion on their own campuses.

With IE3, we aim to create a learning community of college and university faculty, staff, students, and administrators who are engaged in the continuing process of increasing their institution’s capacity for inclusion and will commit to learning through reflection, sharing what is being learned, listening to feedback, and supporting other members of the community. 

The IE3 learning community works together in Learning Community Clusters (LCCs), each of which focuses on one of three IE3 challenges: 

  1. Content of the introductory science experience, which embodies inclusive learning 
  2. Meaningful evaluation of effective and inclusive teaching, which will inform faculty practices, including promotion and tenure decisions 
  3. Effective partnerships between 2- and 4-year institutions, which grow from existing relationships 

During the first phase of the initiative, LCCs developed approaches to address their selected IE3 challenge and built relationships to become an inclusive, supportive community. During the second phase, the learning communities are designing and implementing approaches to address the three challenges, engaging in the continuous work of developing relationships, and collectively exploring what it takes to build capacity for inclusion.

Our Beginnings

When HHMI initially launched IE3 in April 2019, we intended it to be the third installment of the Inclusive Excellence initiative. Our plan was to conduct a competition following our standard process—soliciting pre-proposals from eligible institutions, selecting finalists who would be invited to submit full proposals, and finally choosing no more than 30 of the finalists to receive grants which were scheduled to begin in the fall of 2021.


In January 2020, we received 354 pre-proposals. Because of the COVID outbreak, the IE3 competition was suspended in spring 2020. The pause in the competition presented an important opportunity to re-structure the initiative so that it could support institutional culture change through cycles of reflection, learning, and accountability. 

During the pause, we reflected on the opportunity to expand how we encourage institutional change. Rather than rely on a competition mindset, we seek to support diverse learning communities of institutions that will develop and implement strategies to address their common challenges through an emergent, collaborative process. We believe that if the colleges and universities comprising each learning community define their own success and hold one another accountable for their collective learning and outcomes, then there is high potential for them to fundamentally change the culture on their campuses. 

Revised Model

During summer 2020, reviewers identified 104 institutions that were invited in early 2021 to join us in forming a learning community and in developing a collective ownership of the initiative. The institutions were grouped into seven Learning Community Clusters (LCCs) and each institution was awarded a small grant to support on-campus learning and exploration. The member institutions of each LCC have been working together to understand their selected challenge, identify barriers, and share ideas on how to dismantle those barriers. They are developing relationships and working to create supportive, inclusive environments in which they can share, challenge, and learn from and with one another. The seven LCCs designed collaborative projects and in fall 2022 each of the 104 participating institutions received a six-year grant to engage in the collaboration.

For Future Applicants

At this time, HHMI is not accepting new IE3 proposals. What we learn from the IE3 community will inform whether and how we might form a new learning community in the future. If you are interested in learning more, please contact us at

Community Focus

Because diversity is a property of a group and not an individual, the power of diversity is realized only through the collective impact of the community and is not fully realized if we rely on isolated individuals or siloed institutions. Inclusive excellence depends on community.

Learning Community Clusters (LCCs)

Each of the institutions that made a commitment in March 2021 to the IE3 learning community was assigned to a Learning Community Cluster (LCC). LCCs are groups of approximately 15 institutions organized by the IE3 challenge they selected in their pre-proposal and include a diverse mix of degree-granting institution types. One of the LCCs, focused on two-year/four-year partnerships, also includes 30 two-year partner institutions. The diverse LCC groupings are intended to maximize learning so that they collectively become a powerful force for change. 

It is up to each LCC to figure out how to listen to the strengths that lie within each of their members, support one another in uncertainty, challenge one another to dig deeper, and hold one another accountable in ways that allow the wisdom of each person and each team to surface, be heard and valued. In 2021, each LCC received funds to support activities that would allow members to learn with and from one another. In spring 2022, each LCC was provided a six-year budget and asked to decide how to allocate their budget among the member institutions. In fall 2022, each of the 104 institutions received grants based upon the LCC’s recommendations. The grants will enable the schools to carry out the LCC’s plans, support continued collective learning and action as an LCC, and build capacity for inclusion on their own campuses.

Challenges and Participating Institutions

Challenge: Content of the introductory science experience, which embodies inclusive learning.

Learning Community Cluster 1 will implement three coordinated projects: faculty training in the core values of equity, social justice, inclusivity, and anti-racism; elevate the student voice, improve the student experience, and situate students as agents of change through engagement and leadership; and engage faculty, staff, and students in the process of making sustainable changes to curricular offerings within introductory courses.

California State University-Stanislaus
Dalton State College
Empire State University
Fordham University
Franklin & Marshall College
Furman University
Gannon University
Haverford College
Illinois State University
Middlebury College
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Trinity University
Universidad Ana G. Mendez-Cupey Campus
University of California-Riverside
University of California-Santa Cruz

Learning Community Cluster 2 will work on projects spanning three areas: institutionalize professional development practices and resources to create safe, equitable, and supportive teaching and learning communities; establish collaborative processes for evaluating and redesigning introductory STEM courses; and create peer-to-peer cultures of support through student connections.

Elon University
Fairfield University
Fisk University
Fort Lewis College
Hamilton College (New York)
Oglethorpe University
Otterbein University
Portland State University
Simmons University
University of Alaska Anchorage
University of Iowa
University of Minnesota-Morris
University of New Mexico-Main Campus
Xavier University (Ohio)

Learning Community Cluster 3 aims to shift institutions from deficit- to achievement-oriented thinking and practices through five overlapping areas of activity: continuing education, inclusive curricula, student empowerment, inclusive collaboration, and broader approaches to institutional transformation.

Allegheny College
Auburn University at Montgomery
California State University-East Bay
College of the Holy Cross
Emmanuel College (Massachusetts)
Hartwick College
Mount Holyoke College
Nebraska Wesleyan University
Rollins College
St. John's University-New York
University of Akron Main Campus
University of Kansas
University of Virginia-Main Campus
Vanderbilt University

Challenge: Meaningful evaluation of effective and inclusive teaching, which will inform faculty practices, including promotion and tenure decisions.

Learning Community Cluster 4 will focus on three projects that will: develop policy around inclusive and effective teaching and make it relevant for promotions and tenure; identify and employ models, tools, and approaches to work with instructors to advance their use of inclusive teaching practices; develop tools and practices that make meaningful progress toward the robust use of holistic evidence to evaluate teaching.

Bryn Mawr College
Georgia Gwinnett College
Georgia Southern University
Gettysburg College
Gustavus Adolphus College
North Carolina A & T State University
Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus
Pomona College
Providence College
University of Georgia
University of La Verne
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus
University of Oregon
University of Portland
Whittier College

Learning Community Cluster 5 will work on six projects to understand, promote, and evaluate inclusive teaching: belongingness in STEM; data to support and evaluate change; data to drive change; pathways to faculty incentivization, reward, and evaluation structures; common definitions; and faculty development.

California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo
Centre College
Cleveland State University
Coker University
Drexel University
Georgia State University
Lane College
Marian University (Indiana)
Occidental College
The College of Wooster
University of California-Irvine
University of Connecticut
University of Mississippi
University of Richmond
West Virginia University

Learning Community Cluster 6 will engage in cycles of learning which will support inquiry and iterative growth as they implement three projects: evaluation of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Justice, and Access (DEIJA) teaching and learning; data-informed improvement of DEIJA outcomes; and professional development for DEIJA teaching and learning.

Boise State University
College of Saint Benedict
CUNY Queens College
Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus
National University
Northwestern University
Skidmore College
St. Mary's College of Maryland
Tuskegee University
Union College (New York)
University of Maryland College Park
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
University of Pennsylvania
University of Rhode Island
Willamette University

Challenge: Effective partnerships between 2- and 4-year institutions, which grow from existing relationships.

Learning Community Cluster 7 (the IMPACT STEM Transfer Network), comprising 15 four-year institutions and 30 two-year college partners, will forge meaningful relationships, empower and support students, work together to enhance curricula, and ensure effective administration of transfer.

Four-Year InstitutionsPartner Institutions
Clemson UniversityTri-County Technical College and South Carolina Technical College System
Florida International UniversityBroward College
Florida State UniversityTallahassee Community College
Howard UniversityAnne Arundel Community College
King UniversityNortheast State Community College and Virginia Highlands Community College
Michigan State UniversityLansing Community College
Monmouth CollegeIllinois Central College
Montana State UniversityBlackfeet Community College and Little Big Horn College
Rowan UniversityRowan College of South Jersey Cumberland Campus, Rowan College of South Jersey Gloucester Campus, and Rowan College at Burlington County
State University of New York at New PaltzDutchess Community College
University of Colorado BoulderFront Range Community College – Westminster Campus and Front Range Community College - Boulder County Campus
University of Nevada-RenoCollege of Southern Nevada, Great Basin College, Nevada State College, Truckee Meadows Community College, and Western Nevada College
University of Wisconsin-MilwaukeeMilwaukee Area Technical College
University of WyomingCasper College, Eastern Wyoming College, Laramie County Community College, Northwest College, Western Wyoming Community College
Washington State University-VancouverClark College and Lower Columbia College

By Campus

Members of each institution’s IE3 team have made a commitment to work together in order to: 

  • adopt an inclusive, equitable, and anti-racist stance through a process of listening, reflection, and accountability; 
  • examine their institution’s historical context, current environment, and future aspirations; 
  • develop a strategy to address the selected IE3 challenge; and 
  • align their work with efforts already taking place at their institution.

By Learning Community Cluster

The members of each institutional team have committed to actively participate in their assigned Learning Community Cluster in order to: 

  • create a supportive and inclusive space for campus leaders from different institutions to share their ideas, struggles, and progress; 
  • hold one another accountable to adopt a mindset that welcomes examination of ideas through an anti-racist, equitable and inclusive lens, as well as giving and receiving candid feedback; 
  • embrace cooperation and an abundance mindset in order to support one another and help guide the way investments are made in future phases of IE3; and 
  • work together to develop LCC learning activities, which will be supported by HHMI funds.