Google, HBCUs team up to expand skills training

Dive Brief:

  • Google is partnering with an industry group to launch digital skills training programs at 20 historically Black colleges, a $1 million effort the company expects will reach 20,000 students over the next year.
  • The first colleges in the program are Bowie State, Winston-Salem State and Virginia State universities and Southern University and A&M College. Programs will be available to all the HBCUs by fall 2021. 
  • HBCUs are getting investment in the wake of racial justice protests this summer.

Dive Insight:

The Grow with Google HBCU Career Readiness Program is part of the company’s recent $15 million pledge to offer skills training to Black workers. The money for this program will be given to the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), which represents public HBCUs, and distributed to participating colleges to stand up skills training through their career centers. It is open to public and private HBCUs.

Students will be able to participate in a semester-long program offered in person and online that features content from Google’s existing workshops and offerings tailored to HBCU students in areas such as professional brand building, design thinking and program management, according to the company’s announcement. 

The program is designed to help students who may be the first in their families to attend college or work in corporate America understand the nuances of navigating corporate spaces, said Andrea Horton, chief programs officer at TMCF. 

Resume writing is one area the program could help students, she said. 

Seven in 10 undergraduates attending four-year HBCUs receive the federal Pell Grant, an indicator of financial need, and 41% are first-generation students, according to a 2016 report. That’s compared to 39% and 35%, respectively, for students attending four-year non-HBCUs. Black and first-generation students are overrepresented among low-income working learners, according to one 2018 report. It notes low-income students also tend to work more hours.

That could leave less time for internships. And work in sectors such as fast food and retail may not offer the experiences employers are looking for. “This curriculum will help those students pull out those transferable skills that they are gaining on their part-time jobs that will be relevant for the jobs they want in their future,” she said. 

Google’s funding joins other recent support for HBCUs. IBM in September announced a $100 million investment in quantum computing at more than a dozen schools. It’s the third combined gift of $100 million or more to HBCUs since the start of the year.

For its part, Google recently expanded its programming with certificates in data analytics, project management and user experience design. 

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