FOSSI | Future of STEM Scholars - About FOSSI

Update: 2023 FOSSI applications are now open. Apply now. 

About FOSSI

Learn more about what inspired the creation of the Future of Stem Scholars Initiative (FOSSI), benefits of the program and its measures of success.

Recognizing a lack of diversity throughout the STEM workforce, in November of 2020, the American Chemistry Council (ACC), American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), Chemours and HBCU Week Foundation partnered to establish the Future of STEM Scholars Initiative (FOSSI). This national industry-wide program seeks to increase the number of underrepresented professionals in the STEM workforce by providing scholarships to students pursuing preferred STEM degrees at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

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I am proud of this partnership between the HBCU Week Foundation, AIChE, the American Chemistry Council, and Chemours. It is through partnerships like these, that black and brown children nationwide can actualize their full potential at HBCUs while minimizing the burden of student debt.
Ashley Christopher, Esq. President and CEO of HBCU week Foundation

Why FOSSI?

When our industry opens doors in underserved communities to science, technology, engineering, and math education, we’re helping equip ourselves and the world with a diverse, highly talented future workforce ready to bring the perspective and intellect needed to innovate and tackle the big challenges that lie ahead. For more information on how to apply, acceptable majors, deadlines, and the decision making process, visit FOSSI FAQs.

Press release

The challenges faced by underrepresented communities in today’s world must be addressed.

The chemical industry and our affiliates are committed to enhancing equity, diversity and inclusion in our facilities, our boardrooms and the communities in which we operate. FOSSI brings together the industry’s collective might to make a significant impact in the lives of our future leaders, who will one day help solve the world’s most pressing challenges. 

Without action, the United States will fall behind.
  • Since 2006, there’s been a continued decline in the number of African Americans pursuing degrees in Engineering, as reported by American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE).
  • Of the 40 most advanced countries in the world, the United States is 38th when it comes to graduating science majors, according to a 2015 report of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
  • Economists project that over the next decade, China, South Korea, and India will produce over 50 percent of the world’s engineers and scientists, with the U.S. contributing well below 10 percent.
  • The OECD ranks American students 17th in science achievement and 25th in math ability out of 65 countries.
What is FOSSI's focus?

FOSSI's initial focus is on increasing the number of minorities in the STEM workforce by providing scholarships to students pursuing preferred STEM degrees at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and connecting these students to leadership development, mentoring, and internship opportunities at participating companies.

The FOSSI program has raised more than $17 million to support more than 350 scholars through 2025. These scholars represent:

  • A solution that delivers real impact for companies by significantly increasing the number of students underrepresented in the STEM talent pool.
  • A demonstration of meaningful corporate social responsibility and leadership by the chemical industry.

The need for this type of program is clear and immediate.

  • According to 2012 statistics from the United States Department of Labor, Black and Latinx college students make up less than 20% of those studying in science- or math-based disciplines and only 5% of the STEM-related workforce.1
  • HBCUs are well positioned to help fill the gap, as they are responsible for 40% of the bachelor’s degrees awarded to Black students in such STEM fields as physics, chemistry, environmental science and mathematics.2
  • It is our belief that this program will support students in becoming the next generation of scientists, researchers, engineers, mathematicians and doctors, innovating and finding solutions to some of the future’s most pressing problems.
  • FOSSI recognizes and rewards demonstrated achievement, talent, work ethic and most importantly, future potential of students that have been historically overlooked and underrepresented in our industry.

1 https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2018/01/09/diversity-in-the-stem-workforce-varies-widely-across-jobs/

2 https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1000229.pdf

Who does FOSSI support?

FOSSI is dedicated to supporting scholars who would otherwise not have access to quality STEM education due to financial barriers. Eligible applicants must:

  • Complete or have completed high school with a minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale (unweighted) and be entering their freshman year of college
  • Pursue studies in pertinent chemical and engineering industry STEM field, with preferred majors including, but not limited to:
    •  Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Math, Computer Science, Biochemistry, Material Science, Environmental Sciences, IT, and Sustainability.
  • Attend a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) for the entirety of their college education
  • Have interest in pursuing a career in chemical manufacturing, engineering, environmental health and sustainability or other related chemical-industry fields
  • Demonstrate financial need
  • Be a citizen or legal permanent resident of the United States

AIChE is fully committed to an equity, diversity, and inclusion goal of 100% parity in the profession. Working with such great partners, we envision FOSSI paving the way for hundreds of students to attend HBCUs — and to become the future superstars of the chemical industry.
June Wispelwey, CEO and Executive Director, AIChE

Measurements of Success

In order to deliver real impact for companies and our industry, our success will be measured by the following:

  • Number of students participating in FOSSI
  • Number of students successfully completing a preferred STEM degree
  • Number of internship hours provided to scholars
  • Number of scholars hired by a FOSSI sponsoring company following graduation
  • Substantial progress in funding a diverse STEM talent pipeline

Eligible applicants must:

  • Complete or have completed high school with a minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale (unweighted) and be entering their freshman year of college
  • Have interest in pursuing a career in chemical manufacturing, engineering, environmental health and sustainability or other related chemical-industry fields
  • Attend a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) for the entirety of their college education
  • Demonstrate financial need
  • Be a citizen or legal permanent resident of the United States

FOSSI is a core initiative of the AIChE Doing a World of Good campaign and its All for Good: Engineering for Inclusion priority, which is driving industry-wide improvement in equity, diversity and inclusion. 

Note: FOSSI is envisioned as the first of several efforts designed to address the needs of underrepresented groups, toward our ultimate goal of 100% parity in our profession.