All Articles Tagged "funding"

Obama Expands ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ Initiative With $100M To Help Black & Latino Boys Succeed

July 21st, 2014 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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Black and Latino boys have long been disadvantaged at urban school districts. To rectify this, President Obama announced “My Brother’s Keeper” in February, a $200 million five-year initiative to bridge the gap between minorities and their more fortuitous peers. My Brother’s Keeper is now expected to receive an additional $104 million in funding, The New York Times reports.

The program’s new efforts will be sponsored by private and nonprofit organizations such as the NBA, Citi Foundation, and AT&T, The Daily Beast reports — not federal spending. The expansion seeks to include 60 of America’s school districts, all of them representing about 40 percent of minorities living below the poverty line.

My Brother’s Keeper, a program dedicated to improving the lives of African-American and Hispanic boys from pre-K to high school, will increase access to quality pre-schools, keep track of Black and Latino stats in academia, boost the number of minority boys who are placed in gifted, honors, or Advanced Placement courses, cut down on the number of minorities expelled and suspended, and improve the graduation rates of young men of color.

Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council of Great City Schools, an organization that’s coordinating the initiative’s newest endeavors, says that while a few urban school districts have taken steps towards progress, there’s still much to be done:

“We need to move these numbers and improve these futures as a collective if the nation as a whole is to make any progress on this front. It’s not enough for us to do well in a small number of cities,” Casserly said. “The 50-year anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act reminded us that those great battles of the past were not fought over access to mediocrity. They were fought over access to excellence.”

According to the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, Blacks and Latinos are more likely to attend schools with less skilled teachers and live in school districts that offer fewer math and science classes.

“Boys in particular are at a disadvantage,” the NY Times added. African-American and Hispanic males are less likely to graduate from high school compared to their white and minority female counterparts.

“I am only here because a bunch of folks invested in me,” Obama reminded us in May, according to The Hill. “We’ve got a huge number of kids out there who have as much talent, and more talent than I had, but nobody is investing in them.”

Today, the President followed this announcement with a town hall where he took questions from the young people who would be directly impacted by this initiative.

“Today, Magic Johnson Enterprises’ Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Deloitte CEO Joe Echevarria launched the National Convening Council (“NCC”), an independent private sector initiative bringing together leaders from business, philanthropy and the faith, youth and nonprofit communities,” reports the Office of the Press Secretary. “Over the next several months, the NCC will travel the country, lifting up examples of cross-sector efforts that are having a positive impact on boys and young men of color.”

You can read more about the different organizations participating in this initiative in the press release here.

‘Best Man Holiday’ Almost Didn’t Get Funding! Find Out Why Black Films Have Difficulty Getting Financed

November 21st, 2013 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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the-best-man-3With all the buzz and praise surrounding Best Man Holiday, can you believe the film barely made it to the silver screen? Investors were hesitant about funding the all-black cast movie. They labeled it too “depressing” and too much of a departure from its 15-year-old sequel, Florida Courier reports.

Malcolm D. Lee, the writer-director behind the box office hit, had to resort to a lot of persuasion to convince financiers to back the sequel. It was only after a table-read, a run-through of the script with the cast, that investors relented and supported Best Man Holiday.

“I remember one of the executives saying: ‘Listening to Terrence Howard deliver dialogue live, out loud, can really turn people around,’” Lee said.

He adds, however, that if it weren’t for wave of Black films in recent years, Best Man Holiday might not have existed. Lee referred to the 2008 to 2011 time slot as the “Black Movie” desert — a three-year dry spell for actors of color. But 2013, in his eyes, couldn’t have been a more convenient time to pitch the sequel.

A few years back, Lee says, “I’ve had many, many people declare that Black movies are dead. Except for Tyler Perry movies.” Now, he says, “We’re seeing a gaggle of ‘em.”

Lately, as we’ve seen a myriad of triumphant films featuring a predominant Black cast (such as Fruitvale Station and Think Like a Man), Lee alludes that he’s profited from their success by scoring funding from hesitant investors. But film flops such as Just Wright, Soul Men, and Miracle at St. Anna’s, FLCourier adds, have caused investor’s to avert their eyes away from African-American casts in the film industry.

“Both hits and misses [from all-black cast films] are analyzed unduly, because there aren’t enough of them,” it says.

Despite the boom in Black film, like Jumping the Broom grossing $37 million on a $6.6 million budget and Think Like a Man reeling in $96 million on a $12 million budget, Hollywood executives are still reluctant to put their money on all-black cast movies. They’re more at ease with tent poles — movies, that without a doubt, are expected to “hold up” and bring in the dough.

Will Packer, the film director behind the upcoming Think Like a Man Too, using a baseball analogy, says the film business is fueled by “grand slams, not singles and doubles.” He adds that Hollywood execs neglect to consider that America is a diverse marketplace.

“You can’t effectively run a full-service Hollywood studio right now without having content that appeals to that diversity,” Packer explains.

“Look at the numbers for “Think Like a Man.” Consider the results for “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” which cost around $30 million to make and has grossed around $140 million. The audience is there,” Florida Courier says.

Fortunately, as Lee says we’re out of the “Black movie desert” and Packer predicts that if all-black cast films continue to produce quality films such as The Butler and 12 Years a Slave, the black film industry will be bursting with support.

Minority-Focused Accelerator ‘NewMe’ Moves To Invite-Only Model, Launches Pop-Up Tour

October 30th, 2013 - By Rhonesha Byng
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NewMe’s Angela Benton, second from the left.

Entrepreneurs are typically after two things: funding and advice. Many early stage entrepreneurs turn to incubators, and accelerators to gain access to both. Entrance into these elite training groups can offer resources like legal advice, office space, access to investors and in some cases, seed money. The accelerators typically take a piece of equity in exchange for this. But getting into these elite institutions can prove more difficult than getting into an Ivy League university. Angela Benton’s NewMe Accelerator has joined the ranks of incubators like Y Combinator, and Techstars, with some of its participants already on the fast track to success and national awareness after being featured in CNN’s 2011 edition of “Black In America.”

Entrance for any these programs is typically through an application process, where many experts and industry insiders explain that the make-up of the team is more important than the idea or the product. Spots fill quickly, but getting one has often proved especially difficult for entrepreneurs of color and women to gain admittance. That’s where NewMe comes in. (Another, DreamIt Ventures, has also taken on an initiative to recruit minority entrepreneurs.) Recently, NewMe made a major change. Instead of applications, the incubator has now switched to an invitation-only model.

“At the time our application process we had was not dissimilar to what other accelerator and incubator programs offer,” explained Benton. “We got a range of applicants including personality types and wanted to make sure that we weren’t just looking for the best companies but that we were also looking for people that we really wanted to work with.”

Benton took to the company’s blog in August to make the announcement. To find those entrepreneurs, NewMe launched a national tour.

“We launched a national tour earlier this year (we are halfway done) where we provide one-on-one coaching, a two-part workshop, and a demo day for entrepreneurs,” Benton shared in her blog. “It allows us to dig deeper and learn more about the individual, the business, and if our values align.


Benton, on the left.

This change might lead one to wonder how will NewMe bring in promising minority entrepreneurs, who are outside their network or their reach. They say they look to find “diamonds in the rough”  — and work to make those “diamonds in the rough” the best.

“We have a pretty extensive network (directly and in-directly) and we do a lot of outreach to groups and organizations that aren’t in our network. Also I’m a believer that things fall in line when they should and we are doing the ground work so I believe that our paths will cross with the people we are supposed to be working with if we continue doing the outreach.”

Currently, NewME’s fifth cycle is up and running, it has two women on board, which, Benton says, is due to the invite-only process.

“The previous cycle was all men,” Benton explained. “That was the last cycle that was by application and while I love all of those guys we desperately needed some estrogen in the mix.  Making the accelerator invite only also allows us to have more control over who we want to work with.”

Benton says in most cities the pop-up accelerators visit, the gender ratio is 50/50. A lot of the people she sees are working 9-to-5s in corporate America and looking to turn their passions and side hustles into real businesses.

“For me personally, I realize that most women, particularly in African-American households are the breadwinner or the head of the household so it makes sense that we see more Black women looking to have their ideas validated and get the mentoring they need from the popups in order to take their ideas to the next level.”

There are just three cities left in the tour. Register here for a PopUp Accelerator near you.

It’s Raining, It’s Pouring: 5 Steps to Building (or Rebuilding) Your Emergency Fund

February 23rd, 2013 - By Rich
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In 2010, I had a pretty great PR job working for a local foundation. I was making double what I thought I should be making as an early 20something, had great benefits and a flexible schedule that allowed me to beat traffic to my kids’ daycare on a daily basis.

Imagine my shock when I was laid off later that year with no warning. My first thought was, “Oh, my goodness, how am I going to pay the mortgage?”

Luckily, my husband and I had gotten serious about saving in the two years prior and we had managed to sock away six months worth of living expenses. Coupled with my unemployment income, we managed to stay afloat until I built my freelancing business up to point where I was back at my original salary.

But anyone will tell you that freelancing isn’t a walk in the park. Sometimes clients paid late (or not at all) and we’d have to dip into our savings to cover the bills. As a result, we’re now looking at building our emergency fund back up, using some of the same tactics we employed previously.
Experts recommend you save at least three months expenses, with some saying that saving enough for a year is key in these shaky financial times. We fall somewhere in the middle, trying to get back up to six month’s worth of expenses. It’s not easy, but it’s doable.

If you’re looking at your savings and realizing there could stand to be a few more zeros at the end of your balance, read on for tips on how to make sure your family is covered in case of an emergency:

1. Realize that it’s easier to build a rainy day fund when the sun is still shining. When things are going relatively smoothly, that’s the time to be diligent about saving. Once an emergency hits, you’ll more than likely find yourself without a cent to spare and will kick yourself for not starting earlier.

2. Set a realistic goal of how much you’d like to save. Trying to save $20,000 when you only make $25,000 per year might not be realistic. Instead of thinking in terms of how much you’d like to have saved at the end of the year, think about how much you can afford to save right now. Is $20 a week reasonable for you?

3. Make it automatic. If you have to make the transfers between bank accounts or to the little jar in your cupboard, do you really think you’ll do it? Probably not. If you’re banking online, you can easily set up money to transfer between your checking and savings at any interval you choose, whether it’s weekly, biweekly, or monthly.

4. Make it a game. Challenge yourself to see how much you can save. Cancel one recurring bill you have (do you need both a Netflix AND Hulu account?) and put that money in your savings. Instead of going out to the movies, make it a Redbox night.


Behind the Click: Natalia Oberti Noguera Opens the Pipeline of Angel Investing For Women Philanthropists

February 11th, 2013 - By Lauren DeLisa Coleman
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Natalia Oberti Noguera -


Hey everyone!  We are back with another profile, and for those who are interested in money — from smart investments or building a business — read on!

Investment and the images of women of color may not be synonymous, but if Natalia Oberti Noguera has her way, that will change very soon.  Natalia is founder and CEO of Pipeline Fellowship, an angel investing boot camp for women philanthropists. The Pipeline Fellowship works to increase diversity in the U.S angel investing community and creates capital for women social entrepreneurs.  This is key as women seek to balance the tech industry. Natalia is a game-changer in this area and has some major insight to share!

Name: Natalia Oberti Noguera

Current Occupation: Founder & CEO, Pipeline Fellowship

Favorite Website: Twitter

2013’s Ultimate Goal: Add #morevoices to the table.

Quotations that govern your mission, inspire you, and are just awesome:

When you do the right thing, it may not pay immediately, but it does pay. –Luz Urrutia

Powerful leadership is about understanding that you belong there.@CarlaHarris

[I]f you don’t have a seat at the table: Bring Your Own Chair.@midyaponte

People think #feminism is just for women. No fool, feminism is for everybody.@aminatou

Twitter Handle: @nakisnakis

Madame Noire:  Where are you from, Natalia,  and where did you attend college?

Natalia Oberti Noguera: I’m half-Italian, half-Colombian. My father used to work for the UN, so we moved around quite a bit while growing up, primarily in Latin America (Ecuador, Colombia, Honduras, Dominican Republic). Summers were often spent in the United States, as my maternal grandmother used to live in Pennsylvania. I went to Yale for college and double-majored in Economics and Comparative Literature.

MN:  What were you doing in your career before you started the Pipeline Fellowship?

NON: I built a network of women social entrepreneurs in NYC from about six women to over 1,200 members within two years.

MN: What events led you to start Pipeline Fellowship?

NON: Having the same conversation over and over: “It’s so hard to secure funding as a for-profit social venture.” [It] inspired me to launch the Pipeline Fellowship.

MN:  What have been the results to date for the organization. Why do you feel its important to have Pipeline in place?

NON: In 2011, only 12 percent of U.S. angel investors were women and only four percent were minorities, according to the Center for Venture Research at the University of New Hampshire. The Pipeline Fellowship works to increase diversity in the U.S angel investing community and creates capital for women social entrepreneurs. Since running our first angel investing boot camp in April 2011, the Pipeline Fellowship has trained fifty women and has expanded from New York City to Boston, as well as San Francisco, and plans to head to Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. Pipeline Fellowship alumnae have gone on to invest in their third and fourth startups, as well as launch accelerators and angel groups.

MN: Since you focus on women and diversity, I’d love to know if you felt you’ve ever been challenged due to gender and race. How did you handle it? And what might your suggestions be for other women facing similar situations?

NON: Last year, I was invited to judge a tech startup demo. Judges were asked to sit in the front row and that’s where I found myself when a guy told the guy next to him — loud enough for me to hear, however not directly addressing me — “I thought that only the judges were supposed to sit at the front.” I turned around and said, “And what makes you think that we’re not judges–because we’re women?”  My approach is to call out -isms. As an LGBTQ Latina, it can get tiring. However, after hearing Ruth Simmons, former President of Brown University, mention how important it is for us who speak up to continue to do so because others in the room might not realize that they have the right to do the same, I understood that burning out isn’t an option. If you’re wondering how to handle a situation, remember:

Some conversations are uncomfortable but also necessary.  They are so uncomfortable because they are so necessary.Molly Lambert

Are Spelman’s Sports Cuts a Bad Idea? Or Is It Better to Fund A Wellness Program?

November 13th, 2012 - By Tonya Garcia
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Image via the Spelman Wellness Facebook page

Alum Keshia Knight Pulliam may have just added $1 million to Spelman’s coffers with her fundraising efforts, but the school is still concerned with how it’s budgeting and spending its money.

Last week, the school announced that it would be cutting the funding for its intercollegiate sports program, instead investing that money in wellness programs. The sports program, Spelman President Beverly Daniel Tatum, told The Root, only benefits 80 students, where the wellness program will reach 2,100. Of the 80 negatively-affected students, 20 have graduated and 20 will graduate in 2013. The sports program for those 80 students was costing $1 million.

“The wellness program is a free resource for students created more than three years ago, where students can meet privately with the wellness coordinator, set up a personal fitness program and take classes,” the website reports.

For many students, participating on a sports team is a big part of the college experience. For others, it’s makes the college experience possible, providing scholarships and other support.

But Spelman is looking at this through a different lens. The school is renovating its decades-old gym to accommodate more students, revamping its physical education program, and reconsidering its cafeteria menus. President Tatum points out the high rates of obesity and hypertension among African Americans in her comments to The Root. The article cites Health and Human Services stats showing that “four out of five African-American women are overweight or obese.”

On the flip side, of course, are the benefits of offering women sporting opportunities. This year, we commemorate the 40th anniversary of Title IX, a set of education amendments signed into law by President Richard Nixon that allowed for a number of gender-equalizing policies. A writer for Wired, Kay Moore, attended the espnW Summit recently, where Title IX was celebrated. Among the things that the amendments allow for are more sports programs for women. (Also included: a written rule forbidding discrimination against young women who are or were pregnant, among other things.) The benefits to girls and women are myriad.

“According to testimony before Congress, for girls who engage in sport, 50% are less likely to suffer depression and breast cancer, 80% are less likely to have a drug problem, and 92% are less likely to have an unwanted pregnancy,” Wired says.

In other words, the government has supported female athletics for four decades and its benefits have been touted. Title IX, and its funding, also became an election issue, with the GOP making it one more proposed cut during an imaginary Romney/Ryan administration.

But Spelman, in a move that addresses the specific problems facing its student body and the black community, has decided that health is the critical issue that its budget must tackle. What better way to spend a ton of cash that to set loose upon American society 2,100 educated black women to tell their mothers, sisters, aunts, friends and children that they need to think about health and wellness on a daily basis? To share the health lessons they learned in college with others?

“This is nothing less than the wholesale re-imagining of the place of fitness in our society,” says Gawker. “What Spelman is doing is acknowledging that fitness is not a competition… It is not too much to ask that every college graduate in America leave school with the knowledge of how to do basic exercises properly, how to design a basic personal fitness plan, and how to avoid eating themselves into an early grave.” Word.

While it would be nice to have both the sports and the wellness program, if you have to choose one, it should be the one that provides the greatest good for the greatest number. In this case, the benefits of Spelman’s program go beyond its gates, touching all those that will come in contact with the empowered, fit and healthy women that pass through its enhanced wellness program.

Private Education and our Kids

November 12th, 2012 - By Kay Hudson
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Weeks after the release of the controversial film “Won’t Back Down” the disdain that has been expressed regarding the current state of our country’s public education infrastructure is not new, yet it can be said that the film put an actual face to the parent that is struggling to provide the best education for their child. Fighting for an exceptional and challenging learning environment without the financial means is tantamount to fighting a battle with your hands tied behind your back, impossible and discouraging to say the least.

Providing a private primary and secondary education is an expensive feat that can fall in the range of $10K – $30K a year. Without a generous salary or handsome inheritance, a private education is just a dream for so many children and parents. Although not often advertised, there is financial need based assistance in the form of scholarships, grants and loans to assist parents in providing a private education for their children.

While no assistance program is totally free, there are many creative ways to fund a private elementary, middle and high school education, it just requires a little research and hard work on behalf of the parent and child.

  • Start early. The application process can be long and competitive. Now would be the opportune time to begin looking for admission and assistance requirements for the 2013-2014 school year.
  • Don’t assume there is no help available. Start with the financial aid office of the school you are interested in. Often there is private assistance that is offered independently of outside help and is only available to students within the school.
  • Seek out resources. A Better Chance (, Alliance for School Choice (, and Admissions Quest ( are great places to start.
  • Check the Department of Education within your respective state to see if they offer private education assistance.

Have you been able to successfully obtain funding for your child to attend a private school?  We would love for you to share your experience and offer any other valuable tips.

Words By: Mimi Scarlett

Reverse: Susan G. Komen Changes its Mind on Planned Parenthood Funding

February 3rd, 2012 - By Brande Victorian
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It only took breast cancer giant Susan G. Komen for the Cure, three days to have a change of heart—or get sick of the backlash—regarding it’s controversial decision to cut breast-screening grants to planned parenthood.

Komen CEO Nancy Brinker just released a statement outlining it’s reverse decision, saying in part:

“We want to apologize to the American public for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women’s lives…

“Our original desire was to fulfill our fiduciary duty to our donors by not funding grant applications made by organizations under investigation. We will amend the criteria to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political. That is what is right and fair…

“We will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligibility to apply for future grants,while maintaining the ability of our affiliates to make funding decisions that meet the needs of their communities.”

Initially, it was assumed that the Komen Foundation withdrew its funding due to the fact that Planned Parenthood is under government investigation, but yesterday, the Komen Foundation said the real cause for their initial decision was that Planned Parenthood does not directly provide mammograms.  As the Washington Post points out, Nancy Brinker’s statement doesn’t address that concern at all, presumably leaving open the possibility that the foundation may reject Planned Parenthood’s future grant applications.

We’ll have to see if this latest decision sticks.

What’s your stance on the Komen Foundation? Were they wrong to withdraw funding in the first place? Do you think this reversal makes things right or are they still sketchy?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

More on Madame Noire!

“Red Tails” Saved By Alternative Funding, Do The Same For Your Venture

January 16th, 2012 - By C. Cleveland
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During a recent appearance on “The Daily Show,” George Lucas described the problems he faced producing “Red Tails,” an action film about the Tuskegee Airmen opening January 20. The legendary creator of the “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” franchises said the film did not receive backing from Hollywood studios because of its all Black cast.

After 23 years of trying to create one of the first all Black action films ever made, Lucas was ultimately forced to finance the production and marketing of the film himself. It goes to show that you can’t always rely on the traditional way of doing things. Sometimes you have to go around the establishment.

Unlike George Lucas, you may not have $50 million to finance your dream project. Luckily, your venture probably doesn’t cost that much. You just have to get a little creative. If you run into finance issues, here are a few funding options you may not have considered:


Crowdsourcing involves collecting donations through an open call. That means asking any and everyone that thinks your idea is a good one to contribute to its success. Thanks to online funding platforms, like Kickstarter, you can do this without leaving your home.

Family and Friends

Your instinct may be to avoid borrowing money from those closest to you. However, this network may be the easiest way to finance your venture. It is best to keep monetary dealings professional, especially if the relationship is personal. Draw up a contract or promissory note. Get it notarized. This gives both parties a sense of security and avoids the drama that can come with verbal agreements.


Universities and companies often have business and entrepreneurial competitions to help fund creative ventures. Business plan competitions can require a lot of effort to enter and the payoff is not guaranteed. However, it doesn’t hurt to take a chance. The New York Times has a great guide on competitions for small businesses.


Microloans are great when you need a little cash to grow your business. Instead of going through a bank, you can obtain a small loan from private, nonprofit intermediaries. Accion USA, one of the largest microlenders in the United States, offers small business loans up to $50,000 as well as business consulting. Lending Club is an online platform that allows individual investors to make small investments of $25 or more until the full loan request is reached. Borrowers can get a personal loan up to $25,000 in three years with fixed interest rates that are often better than those of traditional lenders. Both services allow you to apply online for free.


A good partnership allows you to spread out business management responsibilities and financial burdens. It is important to be very selective when choosing a business partner. You will most likely be spending more time with this person than anyone else. Before you launch a business, be sure you and your partner’s values and vision for the new venture are aligned. Draw up a shareholder agreement before you incorporate to safeguard all parties in the event the partnership falls part.


Cortney Cleveland is a public relations practitioner and freelance writer working in New York City. You can follow her on Twitter @CleveInTheCity.

Black Researchers Trail Behind in Obtaining Grants

August 19th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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By Charlotte Young

Even with equal training and research merits, a new study reveals that black researchers still have trouble securing federal medical research money compared to other racial groups.

The study, reported on by USA Today, shows that black researchers have about two thirds of the chance of whites to receive grant funding. But black researchers aren’t just lagging behinds whites in their efforts to secure funding.

Asian and Hispanic researchers comprised about 21 percent of the grant applications and have a success rate almost equal to that of white grant applicants, which is about 29 percent. Research authored by black applicants are funded only about 17 percent of the time.

The study was released on Thursday in the journal, Science. Led by University of Kansas’ Donna Ginther, the researchers took a look at 83,188 applications for new heads of laboratories grants. The study took place from 2000 to 2006 and was a result of grants from 40,069 researchers.

Officials from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), say they recognize this new data is  “not acceptable” and “deeply troubling.”

The problem has been there all along,” Francis Collins, the NIH chief said at a briefing. “Now we know about it and have to do something.”

As blacks are also less likely to become scientists than whites, Collins also admits that the study shows that they are “failing even the ones who do make it” and that NIH has “a long way to go.”

Although there is no one explanation for the disparities, the study did note that black researchers are less likely to work at one of the top 30 universities and they were also less likely to resubmit rejected applications.

Collins also points to a lack of mentoring for black applicants. In efforts to correct the disparities, Collins discloses that the he and his colleague Lawrence Tayback will do careful analysis of the review panel and grant applications, to ensure that no “subtle bias” is taking place in the evaluation.

Kenneth Getz at the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development in Boston, says he is most troubled by the minimal presence and recruitment of African American participants in drug trials due to the lack to researchers that look like them and have the interest of the black community in mind.

“Turning away black researchers from running studies,” Getz tells USA Today “will ultimately play a major role in driving health disparities among minority patients.”