BREAKING: New HBCU Innovation Hub Announces $1 Million In Scholarships

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  • The Propel Center will be awarding 100 students with $10,000 scholarships.
  • Recipients will also have opportunities to work with some of Propel’s corporate partners.
  • Propel will be breaking ground on a 50,000 square-foot center at the Atlanta University Center before the summer.

The Propel Center, an initiative backed by Apple and Southern Company to train HBCU students for the innovation economy, has announced it will be awarding a total of  $1 million to HBCUs by giving 100 students who are part of the initiative $10,000 scholarships.

“At Apple, we believe education is a powerful force for equity, and we’re thrilled to help create new opportunities for HBCU students to blaze trails in their academic and professional pursuits,” Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives, said in a statement.

The Propel Center is supported in part by Apple’s Racial Equity and Justice Initiative, an effort that started with an initial $100 million commitment that came two weeks after the murder of George Floyd. Apple has dedicated at least $25 million to Propel.

The recipients will also have opportunities to work with some of Propel’s corporate partners, who have not yet been announced. Propel aims to provide students from all 102 HBCUs access to training, internships and opportunities in entertainment, social justice, entrepreneurship, technology and agri-tech. 

On average, more than 66 percent of undergraduate HBCU students receive Pell Grants, the federal program that gives grants to students who display exceptional financial need, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics. The median tuition and fees at an HBCU is $9,622 for the full academic year, not including room and board.

The scholarships from Propel could have a big impact on the chosen students, potentially saving them a year’s worth of student loans.

This is not the first time that Propel, which was launched in January 2021, has distributed money to the HBCU community.

In addition to Apple’s $25 million contribution, Southern Company, the electric and gas utilities provider, gave an additional $25 million in seed funding to Propel. Roughly 10 percent of that initial $50 million has been given out as grants over the past year — $2 million to social justice research projects and $3 million to agri-tech and arts ventures at participating HBCUs.

This fall, Propel will also launch a virtual course for HBCU students that will focus on industry professionals, their background and work. It is intended to break down how the professional got from school to the job they now do and unpack that process.

But Propel is not just a virtual venture — it is also meant to be experiential. There will be a 50,000 square-foot campus at the Atlanta University Center, which houses Spelman College, Morehouse College, the Morehouse School of Medicine and Clark Atlanta University. They will break ground on the center before summer and a site has already been chosen, although it has not yet been disclosed.

The scholarship winners will be announced in mid-March.

Mirtha Donastorg

Mirtha Donastorg is a corps member with Report for America and The Plug's HBCU Innovation Editor and Senior Reporter, exploring start-up initiatives and innovations coming from Historically Black Colleges and Universities, as well as the way students are shaping the future of tech. She previously worked as an associate producer and a researcher for CNN.