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Apple's Propel Center will connect Del State students with technology curriculum, cultural thought leaders, entrepreneurial skills development and accelerator program. The project is part of Apple's Racial Equity and Justice Initiative.
In this photo: Apple’s Propel Center will connect Del State students with technology curriculum, cultural thought leaders, entrepreneurial skills development and accelerator program. The project is part of Apple’s Racial Equity and Justice Initiative.
On Campus

Del State partners with Apple’s Propel Center

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Delaware State University is proud to announce its partnership with Propel Center, a new global campus headquartered in Atlanta that will support innovative learning and development for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) nationwide. Del State will collaborate with Propel Center and the entire HBCU community to bring leadership and career development programming to its students.

The project is part of Apple’s $100 million Racial Equity and Justice Initiative, which is the corporation’s commitment to help dismantle systemic barriers to opportunity and combat injustices faced by communities of color.

Propel Center was imagined and designed by Ed Farm, a nonprofit dedicated to advancing education through technology — with Apple and Southern Company supporting the project as founding partners. The Propel Center is designed to connect HBCU students to technology curriculum, cultural thought leaders, entrepreneurship skills development, and accelerator programs, with a focus on social justice and equity. 

The first-of-its-kind initiative will serve as a hub for all 100+ HBCUs, and is designed to connect students and faculty from across the community and provide them with the knowledge, skills, tools and resources necessary to transform our nation’s talent pipeline and workforce. Curriculum options will include AI and machine learning, agricultural technologies, social justice, entertainment arts, app development, augmented reality, design and creativity, career preparation, and entrepreneurship tracks. 

Del State President Tony Allen notes that HBCUs contribute more than $18 billion to the gross domestic product each year. He further pointed out that while representing only 3 percent of all colleges and universities in the country, HBCUs still graduate nearly 25% of all Black professionals – strong evidence that HBCUs’ investments yield significantly higher returns than any other sector of higher education.

“Propel is a classic example. By bringing exceptional students across the country to learn real-world skills in and outside the classroom, Propel will redefine the future of work for a smaller, more inclusive global community,” Dr. Allen said. “Delaware State University is excited to be part of this initiative.”

Del State students will access Propel Center’s online digital learning platform from anywhere, and will also have access to the 50,000-square-foot Propel Center headquarters in Atlanta, equipped with state-of-the-art lecture halls, learning labs, and on-site living for a scholars-in-residence program.

“The HBCU community is a tremendous engine of Black creativity, entrepreneurship, and inclusive opportunity,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s Vice President of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives. “We are thrilled to join with partners and community stakeholders to support the Propel Center and be part of this groundbreaking new global hub for HBCU innovation and learning, devoted to helping faculty create best-in-class curriculum and ensuring students have access to cutting-edge skills.”

“These investments are critical as we begin to truly scale Black innovation ecosystems,” said Anthony Oni, Ed Farm chairman. “By leveraging technology and partnerships to connect students with unique learning opportunities, we can lift up the talent that already exists at these institutions of higher learning and accelerate their development. In doing so, we will have a hand in shaping the workforce of the future — and the leaders of tomorrow.”

Tim Cook, Apple CEO, said the Propel Center is one of several new initiatives that address the need to empower communities that have borne the brunt of racism and discrimination too long.

“We are all accountable to the urgent work of building a more just, more equitable world – and these new projects send a clear signal of Apple’s enduring commitment,” the Apple CEO said. “We are honored to help bring this vision to bear, and to match our words and actions to the values of equity and inclusion we have always prized at Apple.”

The University has had an ongoing partnership with Apple since June 2018 to provide every incoming student with an iPad or MacBook as part of the University’s launch of its Digital Learning Initiative. That initiative – which set a goal of converting all curriculum to a digital format by 2020 – is credited with positioning Del State last spring to quickly switch to the online delivery of all of its courses upon the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recently Delaware State University was nominated for consideration in the selection of the 2021 “Apple Distinguished School,” which will be announced in June. No HBCU has ever won that Apple award.

Additional information on Propel Center can be found at PropelCenter.org.