IBM Extends HBCU Initiatives Through New Industry Collaborations

by savoystaff

IBM has extended its IBM Global University Program with historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to 40 schools.

IBM is now working with the American Association of Blacks in Higher Education (AABHE), 100 Black Men of America, Inc., Advancing Minorities’ Interest in Engineering (AMIE) and the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) to better prepare HBCU students for in-demand jobs in the digital economy.

In parallel, the IBM Institute for Business Value released a new report with broad-ranging recommendations on how businesses can cultivate more diverse, inclusive workforces by establishing similar programs and deepening engagement with HBCUs.

IBM’s HBCU program momentum has been strong in an environment where only 43% of leaders across industry and academia believe higher education prepares students with necessary workforce skills.* In September 2020, IBM announced the investment of $100 million in assets, technology and resources to HBCUs across the United States. Through IBM Global University Programs, which include the continuously enhanced IBM Academic Initiative and IBM Skills Academy, IBM has now:

  • Distributed no-charge access to cloud, AI and quantum computing software, courseware, tutorials and over 330 university guest lecturers across 40 HBCUs.
  • Trained over 247 HBCU faculty in AI, blockchain, cloud computing, cybersecurity, data science, design thinking, Internet of Things and quantum computing.
  • Awarded 15 students from nine HBCUs with inaugural IBM Masters Fellowship Awards to help progress their work in disruptive technologies, regardless of their field of study.

Building on this work, IBM and key HBCU ecosystem partners are now collaborating to expedite faculty and student access and use of IBM’s industry resources.

  • American Association of Blacks in Higher Education is involved in numerous initiatives such as addressing the pipeline of Black faculty and staff in higher education, bringing issues pertinent to Black faculty and staff to the attention of the larger academic community and recognizing African American achievements and accomplishments to higher education. Through this new collaboration with IBM, AABHE members can access industry resources at no cost to help remove gaps in some of the most in-demand skills areas.
  • Advancing Minorities’ Interest in Engineering is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to expand corporate and government alliances with the 15 ABET-accredited HBCU Schools of Engineering to implement and support programs to attract, educate, graduate and place underrepresented minority students in engineering and computer science careers. IBM Global University Programs like the IBM Academic Initiative and the IBM Skills Academy provide access, assets and opportunities for AMIE’s HBCU faculty and students to gain high-demand skills in areas like AI, cybersecurity, blockchain, quantum computing and cloud computing.
  • 100 Black Men of America, Inc. is collaborating with IBM across its 102 U.S. and international chapters to enable leaders and mentors to introduce students to resources they may not be aware they have access to for developing crucial skills in high-demand areas.
  • United Negro College Fund will collaborate with IBM to help students maximize their potential by growing their awareness of industry opportunities for in-demand skills and by providing access to no-cost resources businesses use daily so students can pursue those skills for their 37 members.

In its new report, “Investing in Black Technical Talent: The Power of Partnering with HBCUs,” IBM describes how HBCUs succeed in realizing their mission and innovate to produce an exceptional talent pipeline, despite serious funding challenges. IBM explains its approach to broad-based HBCU collaboration with a series of best-practices for industry organizations.

IBM’s series of best practices include:

  • Identify the schools that make the right fit
  • Define your strategy and commit to it for the long term
  • Get support from the top
  • Keep a partner mindset
  • Define shared metrics for success
  • Evaluate, improve and repeat

To download the full report, please visit: LINK.

HBCU students continue to engage with IBM on a wide range of opportunities. These include students taking artificial intelligence, cybersecurity or cloud e-learning courses and receiving a foundational industry badge certificate in four hours. Many also attend IBM’s virtual student Wednesday seminars with leading experts, such as IBM neuroscientists who discuss the implications of ethics in neurotechnology.

Statements from Collaborators
“HBCUs typically deliver a high return on investment. They have less money in their endowments, faculty is responsible for teaching a larger volume of classes per term and they receive less revenue per student than non-HBCUs. Yet, HBCUs produce almost a third of all African-American STEM graduates,”** said Valinda Kennedy, HBCU Program Manager, IBM Global University Programs and co-author of Investing in Black Technical Talent: The Power of Partnering with HBCUs.” “It is both a racial equity and an economic imperative for U.S. industry competitiveness to develop the most in-demand skills and jobs for all students and seek out HBCU students who are typically underrepresented in many of the most high-demand areas.”

“100 Black Men of America, Inc. is proud to collaborate with IBM to deliver these exceptional and needed resources to the HBCU community and students attending these institutions. The 100 has long supported and sought to identify mechanisms that aid in the sustainability of historically black colleges and universities. This collaboration and the access and opportunities provided by IBM will make great strides in advancing that goal,” stated 100 Black Men of America Chairman Thomas W. Dortch, Jr.

“The American Association of Blacks in Higher Education is proud to collaborate with IBM,” said Dereck Rovaris, President, AABHE. “Our mission to be the premier organization to drive leadership development, access and vital issues concerning Blacks in higher education works perfectly with IBM’s mission to lead in the creation, development and manufacture of the industry’s most advanced information technologies. Together this collaboration will enhance both organizations and the many people we serve.”

“IBM is a strong AMIE partner whose role is strategic and support is significant in developing a diverse engineering workforce through AMIE and our HBCU community. IBM’s presence on AMIE’s Board of Directors provides leadership for AMIE’s strategies, key initiatives and programs to achieve our goal of a diverse engineering workforce,” said Veronica Nelson, Executive Director, AMIE. “IBM programs like the IBM Academic Initiative and the IBM Skills Academy provide access, assets and opportunities for our HBCU faculty and students to gain high-demand skills in areas like AI, cybersecurity, blockchain, quantum computing and cloud computing. IBM is a key sponsor of the annual AMIE Design Challenge introducing students to new and emerging technologies through industry collaborations and providing experiential activities like IBM Enterprise Design Thinking, which is the foundational platform for the Design Challenge. The IBM Masters and PhD Fellowship Awards program supports our HBCU students with mentoring, collaboration opportunities on disruptive technologies as well as a financial award. The IBM Blue Movement HBCU Coding Boot Camp enables and recognizes programming competencies. IBM also sponsors scholarships for the students at the 15 HBCU Schools of Engineering to support their educational pursuits. IBM continues to evolve its engagement with AMIE and the HBCU Schools of Engineering.”

“The IBM Skills Academy is timely in providing resources that support the creativity of my students in the Dual Degree Engineering Program at Clark Atlanta University,” said Dr. Olugbemiga A. Olatidoye, Professor, Dual Degree Engineering and Director, Visualization, Stimulation and Design Laboratory, Clark Atlanta University. “It also allows my students to be skillful in their design thinking process, which resulted in an IBM digital badge certificate and a stackable credential for their future endeavors.”

“We truly value the IBM skills programs and have benefitted from the Academic Initiative, Skills Academy and Global University Awards across all five campuses,” said Dr. Derrick Warren, Interim Associate Dean and MBA Director, Southern University. “Over 24 faculty and staff have received instructor training and more than 300 students now have micro-certifications in AI, cloud, cybersecurity, data science, design thinking, Internet of Things, quantum computing and other offerings.”

“At UNCF, we have a history of supporting HBCUs as they amplify their outsized impact on the Black community, and our work would not be possible without transformational partnerships with organizations like IBM and their IBM Global University Programs,” said Ed Smith-Lewis, Executive Director of UNCF’s Institute for Capacity Building. “We are excited to bring the resources of IBM to HBCUs, their faculty, and their students.”

“IBM Skills Academy is an ideal platform for faculty to teach their students the latest in computing and internet technologies,” said Dr. Sridhar Malkaram, West Virginia State University. “It helped the students in my Applied Data Mining course experience the state of the art in data science methods and analysis tools. The course completion badge/certificate has been an additional and useful incentive for students, which promoted their interest. The Skills Academy courses can be advantageously adapted by faculty, either as stand-alone courses or as part of existing courses.”


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