TSU Uses National Coding Hub to Help Apple Deepen Partnerships With HBCUs, Bridge Technology Gap in Underserved Communities

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Tennessee State University's HBCU C2 Initiative (Photo by: TSU Media Relations)
Tennessee State University's HBCU C2 Initiative (Photo by: TSU Media Relations)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is helping Apple deepen its existing partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities by using its national coding hub to reach even more HBCUs, allowing them to expand coding and creativity opportunities to their own communities.

Apple announced it is adding 10 more HBCU regional coding centers that will serve as technology hubs for their campuses and broader communities. This effort is part of Apple’s Community Education Initiative, designed to bring coding, creativity, and workforce development opportunities to learners of all ages. TSU now serves as the national hub for training and providing support to educators from these institutions.

“Tennessee State University is proud to be a national hub for this great initiative, as we give HBCU students and their communities access to an opportunity to expand their knowledge and gain important workforce development skills,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “Coding and app development are a growing part of the global workforce, and we want to help make sure people of color, especially our students, are equipped with the knowledge and skills to be competitive, and successful.”

The tech giant has been working with TSU for the past two years to launch and expand the school’s HBCU C2 initiative, which brings coding and creativity experiences to all 100-plus HBCUs.

Ten HBCUs, which have been working alongside Apple and Tennessee State University for the past year, will now become hubs to promote coding in their broader communities: Arkansas Baptist College, Central State University, Claflin University, Dillard University, Fisk University, Lawson State Community College, Morehouse College, Prairie View A&M University, Southern University at Shreveport, and Tougaloo College. Apple expects to double the number of HBCU partners by the end of this summer, expanding the network of schools offering coding, creativity, and career pathway opportunities.

Dr. Robbie Melton is TSU’s associate vice president of the SMART Global Technology Innovation Center and dean of Graduate and Professional Studies. She is also a champion of the HBCU C2 initiative. She is proud of what the program has already accomplished, and sees unlimited potential for the future.

“In two years, I want all HBCUs to be coding and creating,” said Melton. “In two years, you’re going to see many more people of color entering the STEM workforce — and in two years we’re going to double the number of Black women in technology through this program.”

Each hub is designed to create a multiplier effect, building capacity at the HBCUs that extends beyond the campus through partnerships with local K-12 schools, community partners, local governments, and other community stakeholders. Melton views the added regional hubs as a key element of the program’s holistic approach.

“A hub is a core of empowerment that goes beyond the campus,” said Melton. “It’s about going into the community, into the home, into businesses so that when people code, it becomes part of their lives and it’s helping them solve big problems. This initiative is going to help those who have been broken through COVID-19, broken through racism — and it’s going to empower them through knowledge and skills.”

Last month, Apple launched a new Racial Equity and Justice Initiative focused on challenging systemic barriers to opportunity for communities of color by advancing education, economic equality, and criminal justice reform efforts.

”Apple is committed to working alongside communities of color to advance educational equity,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives. “We see this expansion of our Community Education Initiative and partnership with HBCUs as another step toward helping Black students realize their dreams and solve the problems of tomorrow.”

TSU held a recent virtual HBCU Csummit, bringing together nearly 300 educators from across the HBCU community. The goal of the program was to share best practices and hear from colleagues about workforce development, connecting with their communities, and to bring coding to students of all ages.

To learn more about TSU’s HBCU Cinitiative, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/hbcuc2/.

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