By Erica Wright
The Birmingham Times
Miles College and Lawson State Community College officials on Wednesday announced their partnerships with Propel Center, a new global campus headquartered in Atlanta that will support innovative learning and development for Historically Black College and Universities (HBCUs) across the nation.
Both schools will collaborate with Propel Center and the entire HBCU community to bring leadership and career development programming to its students. Propel Center was designed by Birmingham-based Ed Farm, a nonprofit dedicated to advancing education through technology — with Apple and Southern Company supporting the project as founding partners.
“The HBCU community is a tremendous engine of Black creativity, entrepreneurship and inclusive opportunity,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s Vice President of Environment, Policy and Social Justice Initiatives. “We are thrilled to join with partners and community stakeholders to support the Propel Center and be part of this groundbreaking new global hub for HBCU innovation and learning, devoted to helping faculty create best-in-class curriculum and ensuring students have access to cutting-edge skills.”
The Propel Center is designed to connect HBCU students to technology curriculum, cultural thought leaders, entrepreneurship skills development and accelerator programs with a focus on social justice and equity.
Miles College President Bobbie Knight said they look forward to being an active contributor of the initiative. “Ed Farm’s foresight to bring together this collaboration will forever impact opportunities for our students as innovators in the future workforce,” she said. “The Center exemplifies the sincere commitment of our partners, Apple and Southern Company, to value the cultivation of the HBCU graduate.”
Dr. Cynthia T. Anthony, interim president at Lawson State, echoed Knight’s sentiments. “Lawson State looks forward to the opportunity to connect with the great network of HBCU’s through the Propel Center,” she said. “We are so glad to see this system come to fruition as it will showcase the innovation that comes forth from HBCUs and grant us access to a global partnership that will only enhance the opportunities we are able to present to our students, faculty and community.”
The Propel Center, which is the first-of-its-kind, will be a hub for more than 100 HBCUs and will connect students and faculty from across the community and provide them with the knowledge, skills, tools and resources needed to transform the nation’s talent pipeline and workforce.
Curriculum options will include AI and machine learning, agricultural technologies, social justice, entertainment arts, app development, augmented reality, design and creativity, career preparation and entrepreneurship tracks.
“We all know inequities exist in our society, and it’s up to each of us to be more intentional in our efforts to make a difference and bridge the gap,” said Thomas Fanning, President and CEO of Southern Company. “We know more must be done, and the establishment of the Propel Center is another important demonstration of Southern Company fulfilling our commitment to move our communities to a more equitable future. Partnering with Apple in this initiative is an exciting way to connect future leaders with these critical resources.”
Students from participating schools will be able to access Propel Center’s online digital learning platform from anywhere and will also have access to the headquarters in Atlanta, which is equipped with state-of-the-art lecture halls, learning labs and on-site living for a scholars-in-residence program.
“These investments are critical as we begin to truly scale Black innovation ecosystems,” said Anthony Oni, chairman of Ed Farm. “By leveraging technology and partnerships to connect students with unique learning opportunities, we can lift up the talent that already exists at these institutions of higher learning and accelerate their development. In doing so, we will have a hand in shaping the workforce of the future – and the leaders of tomorrow.”
For more information on Propel Center, visit www.propelcenter.org.