Supporting HBCU students on the path to tech careers

Last weekend I was welcomed back to my “home by the sea” — Hampton University, located on Chesapeake Bay — as the co-grand marshal for this year’s homecoming festivities along with fellow alumna Dr. Dietra Trent, White House Director of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) initiatives. As a proud Hampton alumna and Google’s Chief Diversity Officer, it gives me great pride to continue Google’s long-standing partnership with the HBCU community.

I’ve seen firsthand the impact HBCU graduates are having on the next generation of leaders and thinkers across today’s industries, including tech. In a recent United Negro College Fund (UNCF) study, despite only making up 3% of the nation’s colleges and universities, HBCUs produce almost 20% of all African American graduates and 25% of African American graduates with science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) degrees.

A woman in sunglasses, wearing a blue blazer and white shirt, stands beside a black sports car with a white sign in the window that reads “Hampton Grand Marshall.”

Melonie Parker, Google’s Chief Diversity Officer at Hampton’s homecoming.

At Google, we remain steadfast in our investment and support for HBCUs, and we’ve partnered closely with them to build pathways to tech. One way we’ve done that is by welcoming students from 15 HBCUs for full-time roles and internships in the last year alone, and we've expanded our recruiting efforts to more than 900 schools in the last decade. We’ve also invested in programming to further opportunities and pathways for HBCU and Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) students, including:

  • Tech Exchange, a semester-long immersive program for select HBCU and HSI students, has quadrupled in size and expanded to serve students from 16 HBCUs and Hispanic-Serving Institutions since launching in 2017.
  • Our Pathways to Tech initiative was designed to build equity for HBCU computing education, help job seekers find tech roles, and ensure that Black employees have growth opportunities and feel included at work.
  • The Grow with Google HBCU Career Readiness Program, a partnership with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, brings digital skills training into the career centers of HBCUs. The program recently expanded to 20 HBCUs, and aims to help 20,000 students learn digital skills by the end of the current school year.
  • Finally, our Google in Residence (GIR) program gives experienced Google software engineers the chance to teach introductory computer science classes, which have reached more than 8,000 HBCU and HSI students since 2013. Two of our GIR students actually became instructors this year, and many have gone on to internships in our Student Training in Engineering Program and full-time software engineering roles at Google.

We also recognize the unique needs of students, faculty and staff within each of these historic institutions. I meet regularly with the HBCU Presidents’ Council, which advises on creating and executing meaningful programming that meets the needs of HBCU students. In 2021, we provided a $50 million grant to 10 HBCUs to support scholarships, invest in technical infrastructure for in-class and remote learning, and develop curricula and career support programs.

To build on this, Monday I was honored to announce a $5 million grant to Spelman College’s Center for Minority Women in STEM. A team of Fellows will partner with Spelman to build the first database that will conduct and publicize research on the experiences of women from historically underrepresented groups in STEM. The findings will be used to help empower and elevate women in STEM fields. This week we also announced $300,000 in funding for 18 HBCU and HSI partners to support faculty and students in tech majors. We plan to distribute this funding annually to enable growth and retention in computer science departments.

Finally, supporting our HBCU and HSI partners means showing up and continuing to shine a light on these historic and critical institutions:

  • We were proud to sponsor the National HBCU Week Conference organized by the The White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity through Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The event brought together more than 1,500 HBCU students, faculty and community leaders from across the U.S. for the first time since 2019. We hosted panels and workshops on career opportunities, resume building and personal brands.
  • Just last month we were the halftime sponsor at the inaugural HBCU New York Football Classic. More than 35,000 fans gathered in the stands for the September 17 game between Morehouse College and Howard University as part of HBCU Week. Our sponsorship included scholarships to 105 HBCU students and a partnership with HBCU Tools for School, a nonprofit that provides access to tools, resources and networks critical for academic success.
  • Finally, we’re working with the NBA Foundation on an upcoming promotion where a portion of proceeds from Pixel sales on the Google Store will go to HBCUs.

For more than a century, HBCUs have been a driving force in the cultivation of academic excellence and professional achievement within the Black community. We will continue to do our part to support these institutions, and their students, as we work to make tech more inclusive and representative at all levels of the workforce.