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Last week,  North Carolina A&T State University announced a $5.5 million gift from Corning Inc. to help the largest historically Black college and university (HBCU) in the nation prepare students for careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

Corning specializes in glass, ceramics, and related materials and technologies including advanced optics for industrial and scientific applications. The company employs more than 4,000 in North Carolina, with a 50-year history of advanced manufacturing in the state.

According to N.C. A&T, the Corning donation will provide scholarships through 2026, with a special focus on enhancing STEM education, and helping students become community classroom teachers.

“This important partnership with Corning represents further validation of the incredible opportunities at our university to enhance the face of the American workplace, bringing additional equity to key market sectors,” said Chancellor Harold L. Martin Sr. “We are deeply grateful to our friends and colleagues at Corning for their generosity.”

Highlights of the partnership include $3.3 million in STEM scholarships. Scholarship recipients will come from school districts in regions where Corning has operations, with plans to return to teach in those districts after graduation. It also expands college partnerships to strengthen STEM readiness for high school and college graduates.

More than $1 million will go towards building initiatives through internships, career treks, site visits, and other areas. Students also will participate in project competitions, mentorship, and networking opportunities with Corning leaders. Two initiatives will also receive $250,000 each: The Leadership Cohort Initiative in the College of Engineering and the Black Male Initiative in the Deese College of Business and Economics.

“We have a longstanding relationship with North Carolina A&T State University and a growing workforce in North Carolina. Some of our most successful leaders are alumni,” said Michael A. Bell, senior vice president, and general manager of Corning’s Optical Communications business, headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina. “ This new Corning Scholar program will help A&T continue to attract the best students and help fuel Corning with the diverse talent needed.”

In related news, Tennessee State University (TSU) announced it is partnering with Propel Center, a campus headquartered in Atlanta that will support learning and development for HBCUs nationwide. TSU will collaborate with Propel Center and the entire HBCU community to bring leadership and career development programming to its students.

“Tennessee State University is excited to be partnering with Propel Center,” says TSU President Glenda Glover. “The TSU Global SMART Technology Innovation Center has been working with HBCU faculty leaders to help them learn about coding and app design and development, as well as bring coding and creativity experiences to their communities. This new partnership will strengthen that effort.”

Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environment, policy, and social initiatives, says the tech giant is pleased to be part of the initiative.

Propel Center was imagined and designed by Ed Farm, a nonprofit dedicated to advancing education through technology — with Apple and Southern Company supporting the project as founding partners. Curriculum options will include AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning, agricultural technologies, social justice, entertainment arts, app development, augmented reality, design and creativity, career preparation, and entrepreneurship tracks.

Alabama A&M University also announced that it partnering with the Propel Center. Apple’s $25 million contribution will enable the Propel Center to support HBCU students and faculty through a  virtual platform, a physical campus in the Atlanta University Center, as well as on-campus activations at partner institutions.

“As a Top 3 Minority STEM Producer among HBCUs nationally, Alabama A&M is excited to partner with the Propel Center to provide additional resources and grow the pipeline of students entering these disciplines,” said President Andrew Hugine, Jr.

Experts from Apple will help develop curricula and provide ongoing mentorship and learning support, along with offering internship opportunities. Propel Center is part of Apple’s $100 million Racial Equity and Justice Initiative.

“We are all accountable to the urgent work of building a more just, more equitable world — and these new projects send a clear signal of Apple’s enduring commitment,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We’re launching REJI’s latest initiatives with partners across a broad range of industries and backgrounds — from students to teachers, developers to entrepreneurs, and community organizers to justice advocates — working together to empower communities that have borne the brunt of racism and discrimination for far too long.”

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