About Aspire


Our vision is to increase the learning, persistence, and completion of students from underrepresented groups (URG) in colleges and universities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to increase their contributions to the U.S. STEM enterprise. Faculty play a central role in the success of URG undergraduate students. When URG students are taught by URG faculty, they achieve at significantly higher rates [1-5]. Research also reveals that inclusive teaching, mentoring and advising leads to enhanced performance, self-efficacy and STEM identity, which foster persistence [6-9].

Goals of Aspire

Aspire will pursue three mutually reinforcing strategic goals:

  1. Deepen the preparation of all STEM faculty to be inclusive and effective in their undergraduate teaching, research mentoring, and advising;

  2. Diversify the faculty through effective recruitment, hiring, and retention of URG STEM faculty via institutional transformation in practices, policies, and resources;

  3. Foster institutional cultures that recognize and value inclusivity and diversity broadly, and in the context of STEM faculty work specifically.

Strategy of Aspire

The overarching strategy is to effect change by aligning and reinforcing both professional development and hiring practices of STEM faculty simultaneously at institutional, regional and national levels, and to do so through a social equity-based collective impact process.

  • Institutional Initiative will build communities of practice both within and across institutions to address URG hiring and retention and faculty inclusive practices. Institutions will do self-assessment, develop action plans, and access resources with a cohort of institutions.

  • Regional Initiative will build regional collaboratives of 2-year colleges, 4-year universities, research universities, and the private sector, all collectively preparing, developing, and on-boarding skilled and diverse faculty in 2-year colleges where many URG students begin higher education.

  • National Initiative will develop programming about inclusive teaching, research mentoring and advising, and partner with organizations to align faculty disciplinary and institutional experiences.

Together, these efforts will create a national systemic change environment for STEM faculty.

Broader Impacts of Aspire

Anchored by the Association of Public & Land-grant Universities (APLU) and the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (CIRTL), over 55 universities, three regional collaboratives (Southern CA, IA, TX), and more than 35 cross-sector partners have committed to collectively achieving this goal.

Both the expansion space of Aspire and the scalability of its impact are large. APLU alone comprises 196 universities that employ 1.1 million faculty who teach over 4 million undergraduate students; 46 APLU universities are Hispanic-serving institutions and 23 are HBCUs. Similarly, California and Texas have the largest number of public 2-year colleges. Future Regional Collaboratives preparing 2-year college faculty will extend across the nation.

Increased faculty use of inclusive practices combined with an increase in the diversity of our nation's STEM faculty will change institutional and disciplinary cultures, further attracting, retaining and advancing URG students and faculty to careers in STEM. These cycles can powerfully sustain broad systemic change across STEM.

Aspire Alliance Strategy Flowchart


1. Dee, T. S. (2007). Teachers and the gender gaps in student achievement. Journal of Human Resources, 42(3), 528-554.2. Ehrenberg, R. G., Goldhaber, D. D., & Brewer, D. J. (1995). Do teachers' race, gender, and ethnicity matter? Evidence from the National Educational Longitudinal Study of 1988. ILR Review, 48(3), 547-561.3. Fairlie, R. W., Hoffmann, F., & Oreopoulos, P. (2014). A community college instructor like me: Race and ethnicity interactions in the classroom, NBER Working Paper No. 13182. American Economic Review, 104(8), 2567-2591. DOI:10.3386/w131824. Hoffmann, F., & Oreopoulos, P. (2009). A Professor like Me: The Influence of Instructor Gender on College Achievement. The Journal of Human Resources, 44(2), 479-494. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/206489055. Price, J. (2010). The effect of instructor race and gender on student persistence in STEM fields. Economics of Education Review, 29(6), 901-910.6. Broadening participation in STEM: A call to action. Unpublished report, NSF Grant No. HRD-1059774. Washington: American Institutes for Research.7. Elrod, S., & Kezar, A. (2015). Increasing student success in STEM: An overview for a new guide to systemic institutional change. In G.C. Weaver, W.D. Burgess, A.L. Childress, & L. Slakey (Eds.), Transforming Institutions: 21st Century Undergraduate STEM Education (pp. 67-74). West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press.8. National Research Council. (2015). Reaching students: What research says about effective instruction in undergraduate science and engineering. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. DOI: 10.17226/186879. National Research Council. (2012). Discipline-based education research: Understanding and improving learning in undergraduate science and engineering. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. DOI: 10.17226/13362