Bipartisan HBCU Caucus Achieves Milestone with New Corporate Challenge Partners
Washington, D.C.—Today, Congresswoman Alma S. Adams, Ph.D. (NC-12), Founder and Co-Chair of the Congressional Bipartisan Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Caucus along with Co-Chair Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) and HBCU Caucus Members Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07), Rep. Will Hurd (TX-23), Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-04), and Rep. Barbara Lee (CA-13), introduced Amazon, Regions Bank, Dell, Inc., GM Financial, Nielsen, Pandora, AnitaB.org, and Volvo Group North America as new corporate partners to accept the HBCU Partnership Challenge. Last September, during the first annual HBCU Braintrust, the Bipartisan HBCU Caucus issued the HBCU Partnership Challenge with the goal of identifying 10 corporate partners within the first year. With the addition of these new partners, the Caucus has exceeded this goal. The HBCU Partnership Challenge is an effort to promote corporate engagement with HBCUs and the students they serve.
“One year ago, the National HBCU Braintrust jumpstarted a historic, year-long campaign to strengthen relationships between HBCUs and major corporations. HBCUs have led the charge to produce some of our nation’s greatest African-American talent, despite 200 years of discrimination and inequality, while the tech industry has faced some of the greatest challenges of mankind with fearless innovation and ingenuity.” said Founder & Co-Chair Rep. Adams. “The HBCU Partnership Challenge continues to be a critical vehicle for developing concrete partnerships between these two revolutionary sectors. I commend the new partnership challenge corporations for their commitment to engagement with HBCUs and look forward to helping them strengthen the pipeline of diverse talent.”
“I’m thrilled that these eight companies, including Regions Bank - a great Alabama company, have accepted the HBCU Partnership Challenge. Through this program, we can increase awareness and participation among our nation’s HBCUs and their students,” said Co-Chair Rep. Byrne. “I look forward to working with each of these companies and others to support and promote our HBCUs in Alabama and across the country.”
“HBCUs are institutional pillars in our community. They are vital engines to cultivating talent and developing tomorrow’s coders, suppliers, civic leaders and CEOs. Amazon is incredibly proud to accept the HBCU Partnership Challenge,” said Latasha Gillespie, Amazon’s Head of Global Diversity and Inclusion Organization. “We look forward to working together to build a better, more inclusive tech industry. We are grateful to Congresswoman Alma Adams and the Bi-partisan Congressional HBCU Caucus for continuing to be a champion for our HBCUs.”
“Historically Black Colleges and Universities contribute greatly to both the communities they call home and the students they serve,” said Leroy Abrahams, Head of Community Affairs for Regions Bank. “Regions is proud to partner with such well-respected institutions in our communities to engage students through financial education, mentoring, career exploration programs, and more. By working together, we can have a positive impact on our next generation of leaders and we are proud to take the HBCU pledge.”
“Today’s announcement is a big victory for our HBCUs, our students, and the future of our nation’s workforce! HBCUs provide an invaluable pipeline of diverse talent, giving our students the training they need to compete in a global economy,” said Rep. Terri Sewell. “I am especially proud to see Birmingham’s own Regions Bank among the eight new companies committing to the HBCU Partnership Challenge. This announcement reflects a commitment in the public and private sectors to strengthening our HBCUs and giving our students the opportunities and resources, they need for success.”
“It’s more important than ever before to have diverse perspectives helping to shape our collective future. Diverse minds unlock innovation and create value to the world we live in,” said Brian Reaves, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, Dell. “Dell has a number of initiatives to help address the historical underrepresentation of top diverse talent. We are proud to take the HBCU Challenge and welcome the opportunity to bring more HBCU talent into Dell and the broader tech industry.”
“If the U.S. wants to maintain its leadership in the technology, we’ve got to level the playing field and improve our talent pipeline with a more diverse and qualified workforce,” said Rep. Will Hurd. “I believe that private-public partnerships will provide the most effective tool for diversifying the tech industry and I’m thrilled that Texas’ own Dell and GM Financial have accepted the HBCU Partnership Challenge to do just that. I look forward to strengthening these partnerships and commend both companies for their leadership engaging with HBCU students who will drive them into the next decade.”
“Alongside our parent company, General Motors, GM Financial is committed to being an industry leader in diversity and inclusion in the workplace,” said Shunda Robinson, Vice President, Diversity and Inclusion at GM Financial. “Through the HBCU Partnership Challenge, we will continue to build upon our efforts to fill our recruiting pipeline with diverse talent, which we believe will not only positively impact our business results, but sustain a culture where our team members can truly belong, discover and thrive.”
“Georgia is home to 10 fantastic HBCUs that play an important role in educating America’s future leaders,” said Senator David Perdue. “It’s an honor to work with my colleagues on the Bipartisan Congressional HBCU Caucus to address the unique challenges our HBCUs face, and I’m delighted eight new companies, including Pandora Music in Atlanta, are joining our partnership to highlight the accomplishments of HBCUs across the country.”
“Nielsen is looking forward to participating in the HBCU Partnership Challenge," said Angela Talton, Chief Diversity Officer at Nielsen. "It's one of many ways we're continuously expanding our relationships with HBCUs as a source for early career talent. These schools boast some of the best and brightest STEM talent in the world, and we succeed when these diverse students see Nielsen as an attractive option as they take this important step in their careers.”
“Taking this challenge is the natural next step for Pandora as we work towards achieving our overall diversity and inclusion goals. Our continued partnerships with HBCUs will play an integral role in helping us build a talented and diverse workforce – especially in our main hubs, including Oakland and Atlanta,” said Adelmise Warner, Pandora’s Head of Diversity and Inclusion. “We are thrilled to be working with Congresswoman Adams and the bipartisan HBCU Caucus to forge meaningful partnerships that will connect us with tech and music talent emerging from our nation’s HBCU’s.”
As a two-time graduate of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, it gives me an extreme sense of pride to see eight new companies recognize the value of HBCUs, and I am excited about the opportunities that can arise from the Caucus Partnership Challenge,” said Rep. Johnson, who is a graduate of Clark Atlanta University and the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University. “Pandora is in good company by joining with others who see the value of expanding opportunities for students who attend HBCUs.”
“AnitaB.org is honored to join the HBCU Partnership Challenge and support the continued excellence of HBCU education, with a focus on women pursuing technical degrees,” said Stephanie Rodriguez, PhD, Vice President of Policy & Engagement at AnitaB.org. “As our organization works toward equal representation of women in tech, we know strong partnerships with the institutions that have a legacy of training technologists of color is critical.”
"I applaud the companies joining the HBCU Partnership Challenge. Across the nation, HBCUs are leading the way in preparing African American students for success in the tech industry,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Co-chair of the TECH2020 initiative. “I’m excited to see leading tech companies engage with these outstanding colleges to build a diverse pipeline of engineers, innovators and entrepreneurs in the technology industry. This announcement shows that more and more companies understand tech diversity is not only the right thing to do – it’s a smart investment too.”
The Second Annual National HBCU Braintrust, held during the 48th Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference, will convene the HBCU, corporate, & policy communities in the nation’s Capital to discuss substantive partnerships and celebrate Black women’s contributions to redefining, reshaping, and diversifying America’s workforce.
The HBCU Partnership Challenge encourages partners to make greater investments in HBCUs. Following the issuance of the Challenge, the Caucus conducted a survey to learn more about current HBCU engagement with corporate America. After the conclusion of the survey, the Caucus worked together with industry to establish best practices for the recruitment and retention of diverse talent.
In August, the Caucus convened the landmark Diversity in Tech Summit on the campus of the largest STEM degree-producing HBCU, North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University, that brought together more than 40 major tech companies with over 30 HBCUs and Members of Congress. The summit facilitated engaging discussions between senior corporate officers and HBCU presidents to develop strategies that create partnerships between corporations and these historic institutions.
The Bipartisan HBCU Caucus was founded by Congresswoman Alma S. Adams, Ph.D during the 114th Congress. The Caucus is comprised of 74 members from both chambers and both sides of the aisle.