NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Louisiana State University and Tulane University are receiving a $22 million award from the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine to lead a consortium seeking ways to save the ecologically fragile Lower Mississippi River Delta, the schools announced Wednesday.

The consortium will explore ways to combat the effects of increasingly intense hurricanes, rising seas, ground subsidence and the diminishing of river sediment that builds the delta, according to a joint news release.

Six historically Black colleges and universities are also part of the consortium: Southern University of Baton Rouge, Xavier University of New Orleans, Jackson State University, Grambling State University, Dillard University and Alcorn State University.

Also part of the group are the University of Southern Mississippi, the University of Central Florida, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, the Water Institute of the Gulf and the College of William & Mary in Virginia.

“A sustainable Mississippi River Delta is critical for both the region and the nation,” said Colonel Cullen A. Jones, commander of the New Orleans district for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “We look forward to the insight and contributions of the consortium as we collectively strive to identify the best long-term management approach for the river.”

Much of the award announced Wednesday will go toward workforce development and diversity, according to the release.

“Universities in the consortium will work with students in middle and high schools to increase the number of persons from underrepresented groups participating in coastal research and activities,” the statement said.