According to a recent survey by Zippia, a career-focused company, African Americans hold only 7% of tech jobs despite representing 13.6% of the U.S. population. To counter this trend, Adobe is partnering with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to achieve equitable digital tech and creativity skills for African Americans. The company’s goal is to expand the talent pipeline by providing learning and career opportunities to students via mentorship, resources and financial support, to expose students to careers in tech, and to prepare them to achieve their career goals. Two of the most interesting components of Adobe’s investment in HBCUs include the HBCU Ignite Scholarship and a Cybersecurity Internship Program.
Through a partnership with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), Adobe’s HBCU Ignite Scholarship is offering financial assistance up to $15,000 each to 50 eligible students attending HBCUs to fuel innovation and create products that solve challenging problems. The scholarship program addresses the inequitable representation, and lack of access to opportunity and tools that build critical skills in digital literacy.
Scholarship eligibility requirements include being enrolled full-time as an undergraduate student at an HBCU within designated majors, achieving a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher, FAFSA submission, financial need, and being a U.S. Citizen or legal permanent resident. Applicants must also submit an essay detailing how they have used creativity and innovation to shape their community. This year’s HBCU Ignite Scholars represent more than 20 HBCUs, including Alabama A&M University, Bowie State University, Florida A&M University, Howard University, Morehouse College, North Carolina A&T State University, Southern University and A&M College, Texas Southern University, Virginia State University, and others.
According to Harry L. Williams, president of TMCF, “We are excited to partner with Adobe’s HBCU Ignite scholarship program. This is an important opportunity for Adobe to help HBCU students display their passion and talent while simultaneously enhancing their creative and digital literacy skills because it will help close the gap and address the inequitable representation in education.”
TMCF, established in 1987, has decades of experience supporting and empowering HBCUs and their student constituents. And, of note, 44% of students at TMCF member schools are majoring in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. Adobe sees TMCF as the exact partner to help the tech company to expose African American to careers within the tech industry. Brian Miller, Chief Talent, Diversity & Inclusion Officer at Adobe shared “We are committed to empowering generations of underrepresented minority leaders, entrepreneurs, and creators by advancing equity and opportunity for all through creative literacy and digital skills and experiences to prepare the next generation of workforce talent.”
Despite holding 7% of tech jobs nationwide, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that less than 3% of cybersecurity professionals are African American. Adobe is also focused on changing this percentage. Through collaboration with Bowie State University, an HBCU in Maryland designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education, Adobe’s new cybersecurity internship program will enhance training in cyber defense to protect information resources. Starting in 2023, the one-year internship program provides students with hands-on cybersecurity experience and professional development from Adobe. Students will also receive help launching their careers in cybersecurity.
According to Aminta H. Breaux, president of Bowie State University, “Adobe’s partnership and generous financial support enable us to further provide necessary training, internships and digital tools for diverse students to increase digital literacy across our data sciences and analytics, cyber security and digital media programs, while also pursuing professional creative and technology-focused careers.” Adobe’s contribution will support student scholarships and campus facilities, student and faculty research, and professional development. These supports will help the Bowie students to enter the workforce with digital skills that will put them out in front on the path to success.
Adobe’s Miller stated, “As part of our vision to catalyze ‘Creativity for All,’ Adobe is committed to addressing educational inequities – some of which were widened by the global pandemic – that have led to uneven outcomes for students from underinvested communities. Creative and digital literacy skills can transform students’ success in the classroom, their communities, and the modern workforce.” He added, “We believe creativity empowers transformation and diverse voices are needed to address the challenges of a changing world.”
In 2020, Adobe launched the Taking Action Initiative, a company-wide effort to accelerate representation, development and success of Adobe’s Black community while working to have an impact on the broader landscape of social injustice and economic inequality. This initiative has helped the company grow specific initiatives to mobilize allies from across the company and communities at large. Overall, Adobe’s HBCU strategy focuses on four main areas with dedicated programs helping drive success in student and alumni outcomes – community engagement, learning and training, advocacy and access, and hiring and career development. The company’s goal is to expand the program in the future to support other Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs)
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