- Philanthropist Robert F. Smith will open the second annual conference in a virtual conversation with HuffPost Editor-in-Chief Danielle Belton.
- HP and Smith’s non-profit, Student Freedom Initiative (SFI), are exploring ways to work together to advance digital transformation at HBCUs through enhanced infrastructure, talent development and greater access to tech careers.
- 100+ HBCUs were invited to participate in the virtual tech conference created to drive digital transformation at HBCUs, which are critical to developing Black and African American talent and driving innovation in the tech sector.
- There will be four student “innovation incubator” competitions. Teams will compete and solve real-world business problems in a bot-a-thon, social media marketing campaign competition, health IT design solutions competition, or an esports/gaming design experience.
- HBCU IT staff, faculty and staff, and university leaders will explore various facets of digital transformation including cybersecurity topics and how best to support students.
PALO ALTO, Calif., – HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ) announced its second annual virtual technology conference for historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) with billionaire philanthropist Robert F. Smith as this year’s featured speaker. Presented by HP with support from partners, Microsoft and Intel, the four-day conference September 13-16 will open with a pre-recorded virtual fireside chat with Smith hosted by HuffPost Editor-in-Chief Danielle Belton on Tuesday, September 13, at 11 a.m. Eastern.
Smith, who is the founder, chairman, and CEO of private equity firm Vista Equity Partners, is a digital transformation expert who founded the nonprofit Student Freedom Initiative to address college student debt and other barriers to success for HBCU students. Smith’s participation in the conference has ignited a broader conversation with HP around how the two organizations can work together to accelerate digital transformation at HBCUs through enhanced infrastructure, cybersecurity, talent development and access to tech careers. HBCUs produce 25 percent of Black tech talent and 42 percent of Black engineers.
As part of HP’s ambition to become the world’s most sustainable and just technology company, it launched the HBCU Technology Conference in 2021 to accelerate digital transformation at HBCUs and prepare for their students’ digital futures through:
- Greater access to tech careers
- Supporting innovation and tech entrepreneurs
- Enhanced cybersecurity, tech infrastructure and faculty support
- Working with and empowering HBCU leaders
- Advancing access to quality healthcare
“We know that equal access and representation drive better outcomes which leads to innovation,” said Lesley Slaton Brown, Chief Diversity Officer, HP. “After two years of remote learning and increased cybersecurity threats to institutions, advancing the infrastructure that supports tech curriculum, prepares students for tech careers, and mitigates security threats which is critical to advancing equity.”
HP has worked closely with HBCUs of different sizes across the nation to create a meaningful experience for HBCU students, IT staff and faculty/administration. HP also is partnering with HolonIQ, a global impact intelligence platform, to launch an HBCU Digital Transformation Study that will help HBCUs benchmark their digital transformation journeys and engage in conversations with other HBCUs.
Preparing HBCU students for the future
The conference has more than 1,000 registered HBCU students, faculty, IT staff and university leaders, representing more than 80 participating HBCUs.
Students will be able to access the Future of Work Academy, which includes:
- Professional development and job opportunities, including conversations with industry insiders on how to prepare for tech careers.
- A career accelerator where they can get help with their resume and LinkedIn profile prior to the conference and apply for internships and jobs.
- A two-day interactive symposium with technical learning and career readiness topics
- Four student “innovation incubator” competitions. Teams will solve real-world business problems in a bot-a-thon, marketing, or health IT competition or participate in an esports/gaming experience.
IT, Faculty, Staff and HBCU leaders will be able to take part in a four-day virtual conference that will include industry insights and workshops on topics such as safeguarding HBCUs against cybersecurity attacks, talent development, tech curriculum and diversifying the tech workforce.
“HBCU partnership with the tech industry will increase awareness and access, and offer opportunities to be at the table with advocates who can go to bat for the brilliant talent on HBCU campuses who will add value to tech corporations,” said Jackson State University President Thomas K. Hudson, J.D. “Equally important is to have in place modern tech infrastructure to protect against ransomware attacks that threaten students’ privacy and institutions’ ability to thrive.”