Just wanted to share a quick update on the fantastic three day convening that was held last week at Stanford: UNCF sponsored the first-ever HBCU Innovation Summit, which brought representatives from over a dozen colleges and universities to the heart of Silicon Valley. The Summit was designed to “increase engagement, connectivity and performance of diverse and underrepresented communities to the innovation and tech-economy through STEM education, tech-entrepreneurship, commercialization and access to capital investment” according to its creator, Dr. Chad Womack, UNCF’s National STEM Director and Director of the UNCF-Merck Fellowship Program. The summit was a year long in the making, and was historic in that never before had this large of a contingent of HBCU leadership – presidents, provosts, department chairs, and related faculty – connected with Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, VCs, and academics. Complementing the robust schedule of panel presentations and discussions were visits to Facebook and Google campuses, where summit participants met with top company brass (including Sheryl Sandberg).
The Kapor Center is proud to have co-sponsored the Summit; these are the kinds of door-opening opportunities that will build a stronger pipeline of diverse talent into the tech community (after all, HBCUs graduate 40% of African American science degree holders). In addition to our sponsorship, Brian Dixon provided insight on a “Financing Your Venture” panel; Mitch Kapor gave a keynote address (and had a wonderfully keepin-it-real Q&A with the audience) on “Unlocking the Power of the Innovation Economy”; and yours truly moderated a session with talent representatives from assorted tech entities on recruitment processes and creating strong HBCU job candidates.
We look forward to the next step on the path to better connect HBCUs and the tech industry, believing that both the supply and demand sides of the talent pipeline can benefit: tech companies will consider HBCUs a viable candidate pool, and HBCU programs will be more fine tuned into the ever-evolving skills that the innovation economy demands.
Many thanks to all who attended and made the Summit a success, and big congrats to Chad Womack and his UNCF colleagues!
Photo by De Juana Lozada