NASA launches Mission Equity initiative to include underserved populations

NASA announced recently that it was launching Mission Equity which is described as a comprehensive effort to assess expansion and modification of agency programs, procurements, grants, and policies. The goal is to examine what potential barriers and challenges exist for communities historically underrepresented and underserved.NASA administrator Bill Nelson says the agency is a 21st century agency with 22nd century goals. Nelson says the space agency must take a comprehensive approach to address the challenges to equity seen today. The administrator also says the new Mission Equity initiative is "bold and necessary" to ensure programs are accessible to all Americans and especially those living in historically underserved communities across the country.

Last week, NASA issued a request for information titled "Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities in NASA Programs, Contracts, and Grants". The agency wants public feedback as it conducts a review of its programs, practices, and policies. It seeks input on any potential barriers that underserved and underrepresented communities and individuals face in agency procurement, contract, and grant opportunities.

NASA wants to know if new policies, regulations, and guidance is necessary to advance equity and opportunities within the agency. The RFI also wants to get input on how its resources and tools can enhance equity, including advancing environmental justice. NASA defines underserved and underrepresented communities as black, Latino, and indigenous Native American persons.

It also includes Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other persons of color, members of religious minorities, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer persons as underserved and underrepresented. NASA also considers underserved and underrepresented communities as including persons with disabilities, those who live in rural areas, and persons adversely impacted by poverty or inequality. NASA plans to hold a virtual public meeting on June 29 where officials will discuss the RFI and agency goals.