Today would have been the 90th birthday of Star Trek legend Nichelle Nichols, who passed away earlier this year. The actress dedicated much of her life to spreading the ideals of Star Trek’s inclusivity, especially in her landmark work for NASA to bring women and people of color into the space program, a story told in the excellent 2021 documentary Woman in Motion. Now the family and friends of the late actress are ensuring her legacy will live on with the launch of a new foundation in her name.
The Nichelle Nichols Foundation
The new foundation was launched on Nichols’ birthday to “inspire the next generation.” According to the official announcement, the foundation “will continue to carry out the dream she had started during her life impacting the community around her.” The Nichelle Nichols Foundation will do this by partnering with existing organizations that have a proven track record of outreach, scholarships, training, and mentorship to increase women and diversity in STEAM education.
The foundation seeks to live up to Nichols’ vision. As she once said:
Science is not a boy’s game, it’s not a girl’s game. It’s everyone’s game. It’s about where we are and where we’re going. Space travel benefits us here on Earth. And we ain’t stopped yet. There’s more exploration to come.
The flagship project for the foundation will be the Nichelle Nichols Cadet Space Camp. Starting in 2024, the foundation will send young students chosen from worldwide locations to Space Camp in Huntsville, AL where they will learn to “work as a team and confront mission scenarios that require dynamic problem solving and critical thinking—21st-century learning skills required in the workplace.”
Nichelle’s younger sister Marian, who is the President of the Foundation, stated:
Education is the gateway to dreams, and our young people are our future. With Nichelle Nichols as our guiding star, we continue the mission to make an impact in young people’s lives and create a path for STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) related education and careers. The Nichelle Nichols Foundation will advance her dream to inspire future generations who will shape our world in the image of Star Trek and its “Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations” (IDIC) philosophy: a world that is diverse, kind, and peaceful.
The Nichelle Nichols Foundation has brought in an esteemed board of advisors, who are also lifelong Star Trek fans. This includes NASA scientist (and TrekMovie’s own) Dr. Kayla Iacovino. The 14-member board of advisors also includes Star Trek science advisor Dr. Erin MacDonald, astronaut Dr. Sian Proctor, and astrobiologist Dr. Michael Wong. Also on board is Nichols’ Star Trek costar Walter Koenig.
To learn more about the Nichelle Nichols Foundation, their partnerships, and advisors and to donate please visit their website at nichellenichols.foundation. You can also check out the official Facebook page.