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Public Provides NASA Ideas for Engaging Untapped Communities

Press Release From: NASA HQ
Posted: Thursday, December 2, 2021

NASA is currently reviewing 195 comments it received from the public aimed at addressing the barriers that potentially limit underserved communities’ participation in the agency’s mission.

On June 15, NASA issued a request for information (RFI) entitled, “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities in NASA Programs, Contracts and Grants.” The agency described the purpose and goals of the RFI at a July 13 public meeting.

“NASA is committed to advancing equity and removing barriers for members of underserved communities who would like to work with the agency,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “Ensuring all Americans have an equal chance to get ahead is a key priority for the Biden-Harris Administration. This RFI is one way we are doing our part to ensure opportunities at NASA reach all communities.”

NASA requested public feedback about how it can provide underserved communities with equal access to the opportunities the agency creates. NASA specifically asked for feedback on possible opportunities to leverage NASA assets to help underserved communities, and barriers to accessing current NASA grants, programs, and procurements. The agency also worked to engage with organizations and individuals from underserved and underrepresented communities.

Members of the public, including those identifying as students, members of the business community, and students at institutions including historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and minority-serving institutions (MSIs), responded with comments that covered areas including:

  • Suggestions and recommendations for NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement, Science Mission Directorate, contracting process, and Grants Office
  • Ways to conduct outreach to engage with and reach various underserved communities
  • Barriers faced when trying to conduct business with NASA

A summary of the public comments is available here:

NASA’s RFI is part of its Mission Equity initiative, a comprehensive effort to assess agency programs, procurements, grants, and policies, and examine what potential barriers and challenges may exist for communities that are historically underrepresented and underserved. NASA will review the public comments for insight that could help the agency address those goals.

The RFI was issued to support White House Executive Order 13985, issued Jan. 20, entitled “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government.” The order directed federal agencies to assess whether, and to what extent, its programs and policies perpetuate barriers to opportunities and benefits underserved groups.

Underserved and underrepresented communities include: Black, Latino, and Indigenous and Native American persons, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other persons of color; members of religious minorities; LGBTQ+ persons; persons with disabilities; persons who live in rural areas; and persons otherwise adversely affected by persistent poverty or inequality.

For more information about NASA’s Mission Equity, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/mission-equity

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