Alleviating the financial pressures of getting into college is our goal. The benefits of postsecondary education are well documented and have major implications for economic growth, equality, and social mobility. Getting a postsecondary credential leads to greater lifetime earnings, lower unemployment, and lower poverty. Over the course of one's working lifetime, the median earnings of bachelor's degree recipients are 65 percent higher than median earnings of high-school graduates. College graduates are also more likely to find a job; the unemployment rate for bachelor's degree recipients is half the unemployment rate of high school graduates.
In response to the growing earnings gap between those with and without postsecondary education, a report from the Pew Economic Mobility Project remarked that, “unless something is done to boost the number of young people earning postsecondary credentials, millions of Americans will continue to be limited in their economic mobility." Without a college degree, children born in the lowest fifth of the income distribution children have a 45 percent chance of staying in the bottom, and just a 5 percent chance of moving to the top. Yet when these same children go on to earn a college degree, their chances of making it to the top nearly quadruple, and their chances of moving out of the bottom increase by 50 percent. TASF works to inform the public about the deficiencies that currently exist surrounding minority participation in college and the workplace. We work with the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) to encourage workplace giving and regularly solicit the 3,000 plus members and friends of the Tuskegee Airmen community to support high school graduates desiring to enter college.
TASF has an investment fund of $2.1 million which supports its scholarships. Members of the Finance committee oversees the fund to ensure maximum financial benefit. A well-balanced portfolio ensures that capital is available for educational support and the organization has adequate resources for sustainability.
The percentage of African-Americans earning STEM degrees has fallen during the last decade. STEM barriers are not unique to black people. The United States does not produce as high a proportion of white engineers, scientists and mathematicians as it used to. Women and Latinos also lag behind white men. Black people are 12 percent of the U.S. population and 11 percent of all students beyond high school. In 2009, they received just 7 percent of all STEM bachelor's degrees, 4 percent of master's degrees, and 2 percent of PhDs, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. From community college through PhD level, the percentage of STEM degrees received by blacks in 2009 was 7.5 percent, down from 8.1 percent in 2001.
The numbers are striking in certain fields. In 2009, African-Americans received 1 percent of degrees in science technologies, and 4 percent of degrees in math and statistics. Out of 5,048 PhDs awarded in the physical sciences, such as chemistry and physics, 89 went to African-Americans -- less than 2 percent (Source: News One).
One of the reasons for fewer blacks going into STEM is the lack of role models. For a black kid in high school, he or she hears of other blacks getting multi-million dollar contracts for going into sports and entertainment, not the STEM field. There is little media attention given to academics versus the amazing kids who can run faster, jump higher, or score the most points in any athletic field. Consequently, minorities in general have few stories that point them in the direction of STEM. Although George Washington Carver, a black scientist, drew national acclaim, his story seems irreverent in the sight of temporary youth. Google the word "scientist" and the images that are returned are of white men; on the other hand, doing the same with the word "athlete" produces black images in a range of sports. In the area of biological and biomedical sciences, where 6,957 PhDs were awarded in 2009; only 88 went to black men -- that's 1 percent; 176 went to black women. TASF will know it is making a difference when we see the number of women and minorities start to climb and become competitive in the marketplace.
Each year TASF provides 40 or more $1,500 scholarships to students across the US entering their first year of college. Since its inception, TASF has provided over 1,400 scholarship awards totaling nearly $2 million. In cooperation with individual donors and corporate sponsors TASF's desire is to increase the size and number of scholarships, becoming more competitive with today's increasing costs of a college education. In 2017 Edison International provided grants to increase STEM grants from $1,500 to $2,500. Aerospace corporations such as Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin has provided ongoing support, however, it is not adequate to keep up with rising educational costs; more is needed.