Propel Center, a virtual and physical campus, business incubator and global innovation headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia that will serve students at more than 100 Historically Black Colleges and Universities, has launched today with the help of founding partners Southern Company and Apple Inc., each contributing $25 million to the effort.
Miles College, in Fairfield, Alabama, is one of the HBCUs to sign up for the first-of-its-kind initiative.
The 50,000-square-foot Propel Center is designed by Ed Farm, a nonprofit committed to transforming classrooms to uplift communities. The Propel campus will include lecture halls, learning labs and common areas to facilitate group learning. It will deliver in-person and remote coaching from industry professionals and will be built to accommodate a scholars-in-residence program including on-site living accommodations.
Students of the HBCUs will be exposed to world-class curricula and access to labs outfitted with Apple technology with the goal of empowering the future founders in technology, entertainment and business. Each of the HBCUs that join the effort will have a state-of-the-art ideation lab.
“We know inequalities exist in our society, and it’s up to each of us to be more intentional in our efforts to make a difference and bridge the gap,” said Thomas Fanning, chairman, president and CEO of Southern Company. “We know more must be done and the establishment of the Propel Center is another important demonstration of Southern Company fulfilling our commitment to move our communities to a more equitable future.”
The $25 million investment from Southern Company Foundation will help grow Black entrepreneurship and provide much-needed technology resources to the workforce of the future. The commitment is part of the $50 million multi-year initiative Southern Company and its subsidiaries, including Alabama Power Co., announced in 2020 to provide scholarships, internships, leadership development, access to technology and innovation to support career readiness for students attending select HBCUs within the Southern Company system’s service footprint in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.
Miles College President Bobbie Knight said, “We look forward to being an active contributor to this groundbreaking center of learning and opportunity for Miles College students. Ed Farm’s foresight to bring together this collaboration will forever impact opportunities for our students as innovators in the future workforce.”