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Howard University is dedicated to increasing racial representation in the realm of STEM. The HBCU has joined the Verizon Innovative Learning Program to provide workshops that cover science, technology, engineering and math for young boys of color in the Washington, D.C. area, the institution reported.

The free three-week summer program—created for boys in middle school—will be held on the university’s campus. Participants of the program will take courses on 3D Printing, augmented reality, robotics, and entrepreneurship. They’ll also be mentored by college students who are pursuing careers in the STEM field. The Verizon Innovative Learning Program was designed as an avenue to close the tech skills gap.

Through exposing the youth to tech education at a young age, leaders at Howard University hope to inspire Black and brown children to launch their careers in this space. “Looking at the research, we’ve found that there will be one million jobs in tech that will be unfilled in the future based on current rates,” Kmt Shockley, director of the Verizon program at Howard University and associate professor in the School of Education, said in a statement released by the university. “As the demographics of the country continues to change, we have to make sure that young African-American and Latinos are prepared to take these jobs.” Howard’s Provost and Chief Academic Officer Anthony Wutoh, Ph.D. added that the partnership between Howard and Verizon will “boost STEM participation by male minority students” and shows Howard’s dedication to “collaborate with institutions that share our core values of excellence, leadership, truth and service.”

Verizon has partnered with 24 HBCUs for the program and over 1,400 youngsters have been served. According to the university, during the 2017 school year, 91 percent of student participants improved in science and 90 percent improved in math.

Several projects have been launched to expose Black children to STEM. 12-year-old D.J. Comeaux launched an initiative dubbed Afro Bot Boyz in efforts to bring African American youngsters together so that they can exchange ideas and foster partnerships for tech innovation.


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