NASA is bringing a clear message to the 50th Annual Bayou Classic Friday, Nov. 24 and Saturday, Nov. 25 – while exploring the universe for the benefit of all, it is equally invested in ensuring the participation of all in the agency and its discovery work.
The commitment will be on full display during NASA’s outreach and engagement activities at the Bayou Classic weekend in New Orleans. “Our message is simple – there’s space for everybody at NASA,” said Pamela Covington, Office of Communications director at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, which is leading the agency’s Bayou Classic planning. “We need everyone involved if we hope to accomplish our shared mission and truly benefit all humanity.”
The annual Bayou Classic event, which features a football game and a spirited Battle of the Bands, typically attracts more than 200,000 students and supporters from two Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) – Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Grambling State University in Grambling, Louisiana – to New Orleans.
In addition to signage and social media messaging, NASA Stennis representatives will be on hand during Fan Fest activities Nov. 25 to interact and visit with event participants. Alumni and others will staff a NASA booth at Champions Square next to the Caesars Superdome from 9 a.m. CDT to 12 p.m., to talk about their career paths with the agency and to promote current internship and employment opportunities for minority students and others.
The outreach and engagement effort is part of an agencywide commitment to advance equity and reach deeper into underrepresented and underserved segments of society and is in support of the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to advance racial equity in the federal government. NASA’s 2022 Equity Plan outlines the agency’s efforts to increase participation in areas such as procurements and contracts, as well as grants and cooperative agreements. The agency also is working to eliminate visible and invisible barriers to full participation, and to increase NASA outreach to underserved communities. The agency is scheduled to update the plan and its progress by year’s end.
Frontline evidence of the agency’s commitment to inclusion also is seen in its plan to return humans, including the first woman and the first person of color, to the Moon through Artemis missions, powered by NASA’s SLS (Space Launch System) rocket. That is just one aspect of the agency’s across-the-board diversity work.
The NASA Minority University Research and Education Project is another example. Through the initiative, NASA provides financial awards to minority-serving institutions, including HBCUs, to assist faculty and students alike in STEM-related research efforts. The initiative also focuses on providing internship opportunities and career paths for minority members.
NASA also has launched a Science Mission Directorate Bridge Program to develop partnerships with underserved institutions such as HBCUs and to promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility within the agency. The primary focus is to help transition science and engineering students from undergraduate studies into graduate schools and/or employment by NASA or related institutions.
Along the same lines, a new NASA Space Tech Catalyst Prize seeks to recognize individuals and/or organizations that share effective best practices on ways to engage underrepresented and diverse space technology innovators, researchers, technologists, and entrepreneurs. The initiative is built on the premise that diversity leads to greater innovation, research, and mission success.
Stay connected with the mission on social media, and let people know you’re following it on X, Facebook, and Instagram using the hashtags #Artemis, #BayouClassic50, #NASA_HBCUs. Follow and tag these accounts: