Building just and durable democracies in the 21st century depends on extending the benefits of higher education to all, and enabling students of all social, ethnic, and economic backgrounds to experience and value diversity and inclusiveness in their pursuit of learning. 

Mission and Goals

The Diversity program seeks to help diversify the next generation of college and university faculty through the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) and other pipeline programs; it also aims to strengthen institutions that improve educational attainment of historically underrepresented groups.  More generally, the Diversity grantmaking area supports projects or research focused on the relationship between diversity and learning.  New areas and strengthened emphases include:

  • An initiative to increase representation of the Latino/a population in PhD programs and the professoriate
  • Programs to increase the percentage of MMUF fellows who enroll in PhD programs
  • Partnerships between strongly performing HBCUs and neighboring institutions capable of contributing to curricular enhancement
  • Support for organizations that employ traditional and non-traditional means to help colleges and universities diversify their student population 
  • Research to increase understanding of diversity and efforts at diversification and inclusion
  • Support or co-sponsorship across program areas of projects that promote diversification or seek to advance evolving understandings of diversity’s role in democratic societies

Duchess Harris: Archiving the Past for Future Generations

Duchess Harris, alumna of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) program, discusses her "Human Computers at NASA" digital archive project at Macalester College and tells the story of her grandmother Miriam Mann, one of NASA’s earliest “hidden figures.”


Tell Them We Are Rising: A Documentary Film Breaks New Ground

Program Associate Emma Taati interviews Stanley Nelson, award-winning filmmaker and National Humanities Medal recipient, about his new documentary on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.


Freeing History

Historian Erica Dunbar discusses her new book "Never Caught: Ona Judge, the Washingtons, and the Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave" and the impact of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship program.


Supporting Native American Education

Less than 13 percent of Native Americans hold a college degree. The American Indian College Fund and College Horizons aim to increase that figure.


Going Full Circle with Mellon Mays

Besenia Rodriguez reflects on her journey in the program from Brown University undergraduate to Associate Dean of the College for Curriculum


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