Southern Company and its subsidiaries on Tuesday announced a $50 million multi-year initiative to provide students attending historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) with scholarships, internships, leadership development, and access to technology and innovation to support career readiness. This initiative will provide support for students attending select HBCUs within the Southern Company system’s service footprint in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina.
“This investment is a statement of our belief that America needs these HBCU graduates in order to ensure a thriving economy for generations to come,” said Thomas A. Fanning, chairman, president and CEO, Southern Company. “We invite others to partner with us to create the scholarships, internships, and opportunities to train the leaders of tomorrow.”
Southern Company acknowledges that building the talent pipeline at HBCUs cannot be done by one corporation –additional partners are needed to join in support with matching gifts.
HBCUs have a longstanding tradition of graduating compelling and impactful leaders. Founded before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, HBCUs were created, primarily, to provide African Americans with high quality education and skills development when laws prohibited them from being admitted at predominantly white colleges and universities. As a result, HBCUs have become incubators for innovative and bold leadership.
The legacy of HBCUs includes pioneering leaders like Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Morehouse); Alice Walker (Spelman College); George Washington Carver (Tuskegee Institute); and many others. With an influx of support, HBCUs can grow this legacy by ensuring students have the resources and support not only to graduate, but to excel.
“Southern Company’s initiative is a tribute to the legacy of HBCUs as difference-makers for the American workforce. With this investment, we aim to foster a generation of graduates ready to disrupt industries and offer solutions to address the needs of our changing world,” said Chris Womack, executive vice president and president of external affairs, Southern Company.
Southern Company’s $50 million HBCU initiative is envisioned as a leadership development platform. It seeks to provide funding for programs that address four priorities necessary for producing HBCU graduates who are ready to become innovative leaders:
- Provide critical scholarship dollars to ensure talented students can attend and complete college;
- Equip HBCU students with access to new technology and train them to use the technology to solve real-world problems;
- Expose HBCU students to curricula, mentoring, and pathways to funding that increase their access to entrepreneurship; and
- Develop a corporate pipeline for leadership and career development, beginning with internships provided by Southern Company and corporate partners, to create avenues to prosperity.
Further details on this competitive program will be announced by May 1, 2020. The first round of funding will be awarded in time for the academic year beginning in fall 2021.
Southern Company is an energy company serving 9 million customers through its subsidiaries. The company provides clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy through electric operating companies in three states, natural gas distribution companies in four states, a competitive generation company serving wholesale customers across America, a leading distributed energy infrastructure company, a fiber optics network and telecommunications services.