Morehouse College Partners with Information Technology Industry Council to Launch New Center Aiming to Diversify the Global Tech Industry Workforce
Morehouse College, the nation’s only historically Black liberal arts institution dedicated to educating and developing men, and the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), a global technology trade association representing 80 of the world’s most innovative companies, are partnering together to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in the tech ecosystem by launching the new Center for Broadening Participation in Computing (CBPC). Housed at Morehouse College, the CBPC is an academic and industry collaboration in preparing underrepresented students to compete for careers in tech, while also developing strategies to make the tech ecosystem a more just, innovative, and equitable space for people of all socioeconomic backgrounds. The CBPC is advised by an Innovation Advisory Board (IAB) of tech experts to elevate STEM education nationally, expand degree programs, and serve as an industry resource for best practices that strengthen the pipeline for recruiting and training students of color.
The Center will serve as a hub for training college students across 19 metro-Atlanta area institutions through Morehouse’s participation in Atlanta Regional Council for Higher Education. High school students from across the state of Georgia will also have an opportunity to participate in center activities as well. Strategic partnerships with universities such as Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign, and the Georgia Institute of Technology will provide students access to opportunities and training from top-ranked computer science programs. A collaboration with tech start-up Karat will allow for several free practice technical interviews thanks to their Brilliant Black Minds program. The Center’s partnership with Coursera, a leading online platform, will give Morehouse students access to over 3,000 courses in business, tech, and data science from leading universities and companies.
“The Center for Broadening Participation in Computing will help ensure that people of color remain the drivers of ingenuity they have always been, especially as we navigate the boundaryless open range of the scientific and technological frontier,” said David A. Thomas, Ph.D., Morehouse College president. “A cutting-edge STEM education, infused with a top-tier liberal arts foundation and close engagement with leaders in the field, will provide talented students with a one-of-a-kind experience that will make them uniquely prepared to be global leaders of innovation.”
The Center’s Innovation Advisory Board, which includes representatives from ITI member companies, will leverage the vision and expertise of companies to provide internships, fellowships, and direct recruitment pipelines, as well as guidance that will strengthen Morehouse’s curriculum and certification programs in emerging and leading-edge technologies and related fields. ITI and its member companies will provide expertise, logistics, and financial resources to support the Innovation Advisory Board. Morehouse faculty will also receive continued tech-education and professional development opportunities.
STEM majors, and other students interested in careers in the technology industry, at Morehouse College and the Atlanta University System will benefit from the Center’s career development and networking opportunities, as well as its industry insight into growth areas in tech. According to national research, Black employees are among the most underrepresented groups in the tech workforce, accounting for only 7 percent of workers.
The Center represents a fusion of four distinct programs at Morehouse College, including the Morehouse Software Engineering Degree Program, the Morehouse Culturally Relevant Computing Lab, and the National Science Foundation-funded Institute for African American Mentoring in Computing Sciences. As part of its outreach, the Center will develop a collaborative conference to share research and strategies with peers in higher education and the tech industry.
“What makes the Innovation Advisory Board special is the collective expertise from 80 tech companies united with a common goal,” says the CBPC’s inaugural executive director, Dr. Kinnis Gosha. “The board is well aware that investments and programming from individual companies alone will never lead to sustainable and impactful change to the nation’s ability to produce a diverse technology workforce. They are also aware that investments must be strategic and involve the institutions who are ultimately responsible for training prospective students.”
The partnership between ITI and Morehouse has attracted stakeholders to serve as inaugural members of the Center’s Innovation Advisory Board, including New York State Chief Information Officer Colonel Angelo “Tony” Riddick and representatives from Amazon, AMD, Dropbox, EY, IBM, HP, Mastercard, NetApp, SAP, Tata Consultancy Services, Tenable, and Twilio.
“Innovation depends upon the inclusion of diverse voices and experiences across all industries,” said ITI’s President and CEO Jason Oxman. “By leveraging the expertise of the world’s leading technology companies and the educational excellence at Morehouse College, this partnership will equip students with the skills and experiences they need to build a career in tech and lead the industry in addressing the risks and opportunities presented by technology. This partnership will turn capabilities into action, transform tech education at minority serving institutions, and deepen engagement between industry and academia to the benefit of our future leaders.”