Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) co-founder and co-CEO Priscilla Chan has announced a $6.3 million gift to bring the Meyerhoff Scholars Program to UC Berkeley and UC San Diego.

The Meyerhoff program, which started at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) in 1988, is known as the most effective model in inspiring, recruiting and retaining underrepresented students who are pursuing STEM graduate and undergraduate degrees. Participants to the program have earned 253 master’s degrees, 54 M.D./Ph.D., 130 M.D. and 300 Ph.D. degrees. UMBC also has the most African American students who eventually earn M.D./Ph.D. than any other college in the U.S.

The CZI grants will allow UC Berkeley and San Diego to apply successful models used at UMBC. These include peer counseling, team learning, research experiences, outreach to high achieving underrepresented high school students and engagement with students’ families.

For the five-year duration of the grants, the Berkeley and San Diego campuses will apply qualitative and quantitative data to evaluate their success. These include graduation and professional outcomes, retention metrics and continuing dialogues with students.

The program aims to improve STEM education for all and to foster lasting improvements in two UC campuses which can be shared to other interested colleges. The STEM Scholars Program is expected to serve about 100 to 120 students in five years.

Chan believes that the key to the next tech breakthrough and discoveries in science depend on bringing fresh perspectives to the STEM sector.

The tech sector has often been criticized for low employment of minority and women workers. A study by the Pew Research Center found that African American and Latinx workers represent only 9% and 7% of all STEM jobs. And their median earnings are less than Asian and white workers. Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ said the program will enable them to continue as an engine of mobility and as a source of top talents for the STEM and tech industries.

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