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About Advance Midwest Partnership - Joining Forces

The Partnership is a unique consortium among midwestern universities dedicated to designing, implementing, and assessing the impact of a package of programs for enhancing the career success of women and under-represented STEM faculty. The programs promote mentoring, advocacy, and perceptive leadership as integral to campus culture and foster cross-institutional data-based collaboration and community among Midwestern universities.

Get involved

Learn about the six programs in the Partnership’s integrated package: Cross-Institutional Mentoring Communities, the Advocates & Allies program, the professional development for Department Chairs, and the events sponsored by the Cross-Institutional Women's Caucus. For more information or to get involved, contact PI Cinzia Cervato (cinzia at


NSF ADVANCE has been instrumental in supporting institutional practices leading to the increased representation of women in STEM. However, research suggests that institutional culture and practices have not evolved to create a collaborative and supportive work environment where women scientists, mathematicians, and engineers can thrive, particularly those in the intersectionalities of women of color and women with caregiving responsibilities. Despite increased rates of recruitment and hiring, retaining under-represented faculty has been a challenge. Although low rates of retention of STEM female and underrepresented faculty are common across the country, regional issues associated with the upper Midwest aggravate the problem, including history, geography, entrenched biases, a lack of community resources for diversity in religious and ethnic traditions, and limited availability of family care services.

The six programs in the Partnership package are designed to address these issues of faculty support and retention. In addition, they are designed to be portable to other universities to enhance cross-institutional connections and resources for addressing conditions impacting the targeted intersectionalities as well as faculty more generally.

Data-Driven Synergies

Through cross-institutional participation in six inter-related programs, the Partnership realizes an ongoing learning process about the challenges and successes each partner university experiences, thus making adaptation, flexibility, and reflection integral to implementation and development of the programs. Uniquely, the Partnership enables ongoing and data-focused collaboration across participating institutions by capitalizing on adaptations and synergies as each university develops specific operational modifications to the original programs. Between 2019 and 2022 evaluation of the implementation and outcomes will follow the project's logic model.

Fostering Community

The Partnership is a community-building project both at the level of individual campuses and cross-institutionally. On the individual campus, the integration of the programs brings faculty together across roles and in response to challenges and opportunities for faculty support and success. Cross-institutionally, the Partnership fosters Midwest-focused connections through shared dialogue, data, and resources.

Originating Partner Universities

The ADVANCE Midwest Partnership originated in an NSF ADVANCE grant award in 2019 to four original partner universities: the University of Iowa, Michigan Technological University, the University of North Dakota, and Western Michigan University. Three of these universities had received earlier ADVANCE grants to develop specific programs aimed at faculty retention and development.

Iowa State University--ISU ADVANCE

Funded by an ADVANCE Institutional Transformation award (2006-2012), ISU ADVANCE is the result of the institutionalization of the policies and practices developed through the award. It has become Iowa State’s most prominent vehicle to recruit, retain, and advance women and people of color in faculty positions at all levels of the university. The ADVANCE Partnership project focuses on the cross-institutional adaptation and assessment of the department chair professional development, one of the institutional programs that followed the ADVANCE IT phase.

Michigan Technological University—The ADVANCE Initiative

ADVANCE at Michigan Tech is a $1 million initiative funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 2018 to promote campus-wide faculty success through three programs: Advanced Career Management; Advocates and Allies; and Advanced Responsible Leadership. The ADVANCE Partnership project focuses on the cross-institutional adaptation and assessment of the faculty mentoring committees modeled on the Advanced Career Management program.

North Dakota State University—NDSU ADVANCE FORWARD (Focus on Resources for Women's Advancement, Recruitment/Retention, and Development)

FORWARD originated in an NSF ADVANCE Transformational grant (2008-2016) that developed the signature program, Advocates and Allies (A&A) designed to improve gender equity through the direct and proactive engagement of men faculty. A&A has been successfully implemented on numerous university campuses nationwide.

Western Michigan University—2019 HEED Award Recipient

WMU was one of 93 institutions from around the nation named an annual Higher Education Excellence in Diversity—HEED—honoree by INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. WMU has been honored by the publication each year since 2013.


The National Science Foundation (NSF) established the ADVANCE program to increase diversity in academic science and engineering careers, specifically by promoting the representation and advancement of women in STEM. The funding supports programs that create equitable processes and hospitable contexts for faculty growth and success aimed at broadening participation in STEM. The first awards were made in 2001 and since that time more than $270M has been awarded to over one hundred higher education institutions and STEM not-for-profit organizations across the nation.