BHEF Project Funded by the National Science Foundation Increases Representation for Women and Minorities in STEM

Replicable Model for Business-Higher Education Partnerships Boasts 40 Percent Minority Enrollments

WASHINGTON, DC (March 10, 2020) – Today, the Business-Higher Education Forum (BHEF) released Bridges to Success, a report demonstrating the powerful role that business-higher education partnerships play in developing innovative pathways and programs to create a diverse, highly skilled workforce. By facilitating the transfer of students — particularly veterans, women, and members of groups underrepresented in STEM fields — from community colleges to four-year institutions this highly successful model has supported more than 1,400 students pursuing advanced certificates and a bachelor’s or associate degree. More than 25 percent of students enrolled in the pilot programs were female and more than 40 percent of enrollees came from minority groups historically underrepresented in STEM fields. 

Five key partnerships formed the Undergraduate STEM Interventions with Industry consortium that served as the foundation for the program:

  • The City University of New York and IBM
  • Miami Dade College and NextEra Energy
  • Northeastern University, Raytheon, IBM and Others
  • University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and The Water Council
  • Washington University in St. Louis and Boeing

These pilot partnerships focused on a wide range of industries from data science and cybersecurity to water science and engineering, creating regional ecosystems that increase the number and diversity of STEM students and future employees in high-demand fields. These partnerships engaged businesses in implementing combinations of evidence-based interventions—high impact practices—that increased STEM student persistence, transfer, and completion, illustrating how business engagement increases students’ success in STEM majors.

“The impact of this NSF grant extends far beyond the original pilot programs at each site,” said BHEF CEO Brian Fitzgerald. “Bridges to Success showcases a highly replicable model for expanding regional partnerships between businesses and higher education. The insights from the program are not only influencing BHEF’s focus, they are helping to shape NSF’s strategic plans for innovative and proactive solutions to improve the quality of STEM education in the United States.”

BHEF has proven expertise bringing business, higher education, nonprofits, and government entities together to form partnerships that directly address the workforce needs of today’s and tomorrow’s economy. Looking toward the future, BHEF intends to expand its STEM-capable talent development and diversity efforts to a wider network of companies, higher education institutions, government agencies, research and development centers, associations, professional societies and other organizations.

About the Business-Higher Education Forum 
The Business-Higher Education Forum (BHEF) is a private, non-profit membership organization of leading C-Suite business executives and university presidents who employ the latest market intelligence to inform strategic partnerships that create innovative talent solutions in high-demand emerging fields. Members provide leadership by encouraging their peers to act on critical talent needs. For more information about BHEF, visit