HBCUs were founded on the belief that every individual deserves access to higher education. LED FastStart is providing key support to Louisiana’s HBCUs to expand such access statewide, as well as increasing the diversity of our workforce in growing sectors like tech, cybersecurity, aerotech, and aerospace.
LED FastStart works in partnership with HBCUs to promote and expand the implementation of digital technology on campuses, align curriculum with tech industry and STEM priorities, and build relationships between higher-ed institutions and leading tech companies.
LED FastStart and Grambling State University have a powerful collaboration with local institutions in northern Louisiana. The effort includes Grambling's leadership of the Friends of Technology Advisory Board, which is comprised of thirteen top executives from tech industry giants such as NASA, Salesforce, and Microsoft. The Board serves as a key point of direction for ongoing systematic development and advancement of statewide university initiatives in tech.
LED’s Higher Education Economic Development Playbook guides the collaborative process between LED FastStart and individual higher-ed institutions. Through its role with the state’s HBCU Advisory Council, LED is implementing the playbook at Louisiana HBCUs, with a focus on expanding and enhancing industry-relevant STEM programs.
LED FastStart and the HBCU Advisory Council's next steps are focused on identifying advocates in business and industry for work-based learning initiatives. They're also working to help connect hiring practices to focuses on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Meanwhile, HBCUs from around the country are partnering with IBM, and Louisiana is well represented in these efforts.
The IBM-HBCU Quantum Center launched in 2020, with two Louisiana HBCUs—Southern University and Xavier University of Louisiana—included in the 13-member initiative. Since its founding, the center has added ten additional HBCUs, including Dillard University in New Orleans. The mission of the center is to educate, foster collaboration on joint research, and ultimately create a more diverse quantum-ready workforce.
Grambling and the Southern University System, comprised of Southern’s campuses in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and Shreveport, are participating in IBM’s Skills Academy Academic Initiative. Through this multi-year program, IBM is donating more than $100M in assets, including university guest lecturers, curriculum content, digital badges, software, and faculty training. Learning tracks address topics such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, blockchain, design thinking, and quantum computing.
Grambling currently offers a bachelor’s degree in cloud computing and a four-year cybersecurity degree program – both degree programs are the first of their kind in the state. Grambling is also developing the state’s first digital library.