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Helping colleges compete.

Each year, historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) compete for millions of dollars in research grants, procurement contracts and scholarship awards from federal government agencies. In the past, HBCUs have complained of the difficulties they face going up against larger majority institutions for these grants. The Federal Information Exchange Inc. (FIE) offers two computer systems to level the playing field in the grant wars.

The Federal Information Exchange (FEDIX) and the Minority On-Line Information Service (MOLIS) computer systems were born out of Executive Order 12677, which mandated a five-year, $3 million small business research grant to the Gaithersburg, Md.-based Federal Information Exchange Inc. The equipment and software to access the information systems are provided free to subscribing schools, which can then access the information for the cost of a telephone call.

The FEDIX system is a data base which provides information on 11 government agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Science foundation. The system is intended to get information about grant opportunities to the educational institutions that need it as quickly as possible.

The MOLIS database provides government agencies with a wealth of information on black and Hispanic colleges and universities. Current research capabilities, student population profiles, educational programs and future planned facilities are listed. The system is a resource for agencies that previously said they never sought out HBCUs and Hispanic universities for contracts and grants because they knew little about them.

The MOLIS system is expected to have 107 HBCUs plus 38 Hispanic colleges and universities on-line by month's end. The FEDIX system hopes to add as many as 18 government agencies in the future. Director of customer services Patricia Deveaux expects grants and contracts for HBCUs to increase

Jean Manning, vice president of academic affairs at Langston University, welcomed FEDIX and MOLIS because her 3,400-student black college in Langston, Okla., doesn't have the staff to research grant information year-round. "Many times, when black colleges receive information about opportunities, it was due yesterday," she says.

MOLIS and FEDIX have generally been received favorably. However, Samuel Myers, president of the National Association For Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO), says, "It is important to have a computer system that centralizes contract and grant opportunities and information on HBCUs, but the system that is established should be in the control of the HBCUs. We don't want the government to determine what institution should be matched up with what resources."

John Rodman, FIE president, says fears are unfounded. "The information is available for use by NAFEO, the government, colleges and any other institution--nobody is controlling it...We are just a clearinghouse."
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Title Annotation:African American colleges
Author:Harris, Hamil R.
Publication:Black Enterprise
Date:Jan 1, 1992
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