Congresswoman Nikema Williams Partners with Spelman College to Deliver $14 Million Grant for Atlanta University Center to Increase Research Capabilities

(ATLANTA) – Today, Congresswoman Nikema Williams (GA-05), a member of the Congressional Bipartisan HBCU Caucus announced she helped secure a $14 million grant for Spelman College, in collaboration with Morehouse College, the Morehouse School of Medicine, and Clark Atlanta University. The grant was awarded by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) as part of its Growing Research Access for Nationally Transformative Equity and Diversity (GRANTED) initiative. In July 2023, Congresswoman Williams sent a letter of support for the grant to the NSF.

Congresswoman Nikema Williams (GA-05), a member of the Congressional Bipartisan HBCU Caucus said: 

“I’m a third generation HBCU alum and know the power of an HBCU education. That’s why I partnered with Spelman College and the National Science Foundation to deliver a $14 million investment in the Atlanta University Center to expand its world-class research capabilities. These funds will open doors for researchers who have historically faced barriers to their academic success. I will continue to partner with Spelman College, the Atlanta University Center, and HBCUs across the country to set the standard for equity in higher education.”

Helene D. Gayle, M.D., MPH President of Spelman College said: 

“The NSF funding will have a significant and long-lasting impact on strengthening the research support infrastructure within the AUC. It will provide the opportunity to advance knowledge and thought leadership and spur innovation and entrepreneurship.  It will also enable Spelman and the collaborating AUC institutions to increase their role in the growth of the state’s economy.”

National Science Foundation Director Sethuraman Panchanathan said: 

“This $20 million investment through NSF’s GRANTED initiative reflects our commitment to breaking down barriers in research access. By strategically supporting collaborations like the Atlanta University Center, we are committed to creating a transformative hub, setting the standard for equity and diversity in the national research landscape. These projects underscore our dedication to empowering institutions, fostering inclusivity, and propelling the entire research ecosystem towards greater heights of excellence.” 

The NSF made the announcement as part of a $20 million investment across five institutions through its GRANTED. NSF GRANTED aims to address the systemic barriers within the nation’s research enterprise by improving research support and service capacity. NSF GRANTED funds allow awardees to find innovative ways to address challenges with access to research support and service infrastructure. Many of the initiatives previously funded by NSF GRANTED have had a transformative impact, particularly for emerging research and minority-serving institutions.

The Atlanta University Center GRANTED (AUC-GRANTED): Advancing Transformation of the Research Enterprise through Shared Resource Support for Collective Impact and Synergistic Effect aims to enhance the research support and service capacity within and across the Atlanta University Center (AUC) through activities and shared resources designed to reduce barriers to competitiveness and strengthen the research enterprise within the AUC. 

The objectives of the AUC-GRANTED project are to (1) augment the knowledge management and exchange of research leadership in the AUC and at other HBCUs; (2) enhance research development capacity to support ideation and competitive proposal development; (3) strengthen the research administration infrastructure at AUC institutions; and (4) create and implement an AUC-wide office for research and technology commercialization. The proposal’s overarching goal is to establish a hub that promotes equity in the national research ecosystem and serves as a model for other HBCUs and emerging research institutions (ERIs). Unlike traditional funding for scientific research or education, GRANTED focuses on strengthening the research enterprise at institutions and across the nation. 

For more information about GRANTED, visit the program website.


Congresswoman Nikema Williams proudly serves Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District on the exclusive Financial Services Committee. She is a champion of voting rights and builds on the Fifth District’s legacy as the cradle of the civil rights movement as co-chair of the Congressional Voting Rights Caucus. Congresswoman Williams is committed to closing the racial wealth gap and ensuring the promise of America for all–regardless of your ZIP code or bank account.


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