Skip to content

Header Menu 2

Header Actions Menu

Salem College Student in lab processing samples

Salem Academy and College One of Seven Schools Nationwide to Receive NASA Funding to Address STEM Gender Gap

Salem Academy Has an Emphasis on STEAM, Salem College Has a Health Leadership Focus

WINSTON-SALEM, NC (JUNE 13, 2023)—Salem Academy and College, located in Winston-Salem, N.C., has been selected by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to receive a grant of almost $750,000 directed to attracting and retaining women in STEM degree programs and careers. Salem’s project “Soar with Salem: A Comprehensive Program to Inspire Women and Girls to Become the Next Generation of STEM Professionals” will offer a three-year program to high school and college students providing support and resources to increase their likelihood of pursuing studies and a career in STEM.

Research and experience affirm that the women who pursue and obtain college degrees in a STEM field demonstrate three key assets: resilience; engagement with science; and academic preparation in math, writing, and the sciences. Salem’s program will focus on cultivating all of these aspects of STEM preparation.

Salem Academy is the nation’s only all-girls, boarding and day high school located on a college campus with a STEAM focus. Salem College provides a liberal arts education with a distinctive focus on health across its curriculum and co-curriculum, preparing students for a range of career paths and graduate programs. NASA affirmed Salem Academy and College’s expertise in STEAM education and health leadership, and in developing these assets in their students. This is Salem Academy and College’s first grant ever from NASA.

“Salem Academy and College is proud to receive a grant from NASA to focus on reducing the gender gap in STEM,” Salem Academy and College President Summer J. McGee, Ph.D., CPH said. “As the nation’s oldest educational institution for girls and women, Salem has been for over 250 years and continues to be today a leader at the forefront of women’s education. It is fitting that Salem was chosen to be one of the pioneers to create opportunities for women to lead and blaze new trails all the way into space.”

“We are honored to be chosen among our elite sister institutions to continue the vital mission of promoting women’s leadership in the sciences,” McGee added. “We will do our part to help propel women into the future, including NASA’s plans for an all-female crew to the moon.”

The award from NASA is a three-year grant for Soar with Salem to strengthen interest in health and STEAM by using Salem Academy and College students as mentors, bringing high school students to campus during the summer to focus on science, arts, math, and academic support. Under the initiative, a key outcome of Soar with Salem will be to encourage prospective students to study STEM disciplines in college with Salem College as their possible school of choice.

The Soar with Salem initiative will result in continued collaboration between Salem Academy and Salem College to identify, support, educate, and graduate a strong cohort of young women well prepared to succeed in STEM careers. In addition, Salem will expand an existing affiliation with nearby North Forsyth High School, which has a focus on health and STEM—similar to that of Salem. Soar with Salem also will foster a partnership with the United Way of Forsyth County. The co-principal investigators are Dr. Rebecca Dunn, Salem College Professor of Biology and Director of the Women in Science and Mathematics Program, and Kris Porazzi Sorrells, Salem Academy Head of School and instructor of Mathematics and Robotics.

As an initiative of the Biden/Harris administration, NASA’s Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) created this funding opportunity for Women’s Colleges and Universities to help women overcome obstacles and barriers to working in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. Through the award review and awarding process, NASA recognized that the STEM pipeline for women is weak on a national basis and reached out to women’s schools to build that pipeline.

MUREP is administered by NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement (OSTEM), which creates opportunities for students to contribute to the agency’s work and grow their confidence in STEM. For more information about OSTEM, please visit:

About Salem Academy and College

Salem Academy and College is the nation’s oldest educational institution for girls and women in the United States. Salem Academy is intentionally focused on STEAM to transform students’ education through the holistic integration of rigorous academic and co-curricular experiences that build character and leadership. Salem College provides a liberal arts education with a distinctive focus on health across the curriculum and co-curriculum, preparing students to make the world a better, healthier, and more equitable place. Salem College is the only national liberal arts college exclusively focused on developing the health leaders of tomorrow.

For more than 250 years, Salem Academy and College has empowered and prepared girls and women from all around the world to effect change, shatter expectations and lead. Salem Academy and College is located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, a vibrant educational community known for arts and innovation. For more information about Salem Academy, please visit For more information about Salem College, please visit

News media contact

Steve Bumgarner, Capture Public Relations & Marketing

© Salem College 2024, All rights reserved.