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Apple and Southern Company on Wednesday announced a partnership to launch the Propel Center, a new digital learning hub, business incubator, and “global innovation headquarters” for students of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Both Apple and Southern Company are founding partners, with the Southern Company Foundation and Apple each contributing $25 million to this effort.
“Propel is both a physical and virtual campus that is designed to provide HBCUs with shared resources to support their work of preparing leaders to improve our world,” according to a press release. “Via a physical campus and digital learning tools, students from 100-plus HBCUs will be able to connect with the brightest minds in the world, through one-of-a-kind global opportunities. The students will also be able to connect with each other — a key component as they become more civic-minded leaders and entrepreneurs of tomorrow.”
Propel Center’s physical space will span 50,000 square feet, complete with lecture halls, learning labs, and common areas to facilitate group learning. The physical Propel Center will serve as a “centralized nexus and symbol for HBCU collaboration across the country.” While the exact address was not included in Wednesday’s announcement, the Propel Center will be housed as part of the Atlanta University Center Consortium (AUC Consortium), the largest contiguous consortium of African American higher education institutions in the United States. The center consists of four HBCUs: Clark Atlanta University, Spelman College, Morehouse College, and the Morehouse School of Medicine
“We’re proud to partner with Southern Company on this groundbreaking new project to build a global hub for innovation and learning for the entire HBCU community,” Lisa Jackson, Apple vice president of environment, policy, and social initiatives, said in the release. “This important effort builds on our long-standing collaboration to advance educational equity, and we are thrilled to be working together to help HBCU faculty create best-in-class curriculum and ensure their students have access to cutting-edge skills and opportunities.”
Propel Center will be built to accommodate a scholars-in-residence program where scholars/fellows will move to Atlanta throughout the duration of their residency/program. The on-site living accommodations will include fully-furnished “efficiency” suites. There will also be an accelerator program with course offerings focused on entrepreneurship, app development, the business of entertainment, community-driven problem solving, and more. “Propel Center will deliver in-person and remote coaching from industry professionals ranging from global scholars and startup founders to policy leaders and renowned entertainers.”