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By Albert Smith | March 5, 2019

African Americans account for only 8 percent of general engineering majors, 7 percent of mathematics majors, and 5 percent of computer engineering majors. They are similarly under-represented in business: only 7 percent of finance and marketing majors are African-American.

Cultivating strong relationships with #HBCUs is critical to diversifying the #STEM fields. Use these tips to build your HBCU pipeline. Click To Tweet

These numbers would be even more lopsided were it not for the vital work done by historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in educating African-Americans in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and other majors that can propel students to higher-paying careers. For more than a century, HBCUs have been leaders in educating African-American college graduates who excel in their fields. A recent report from the National Science Foundation revealed that HBCUs account for 21 of the top 50 institutions for educating African-American graduates who go on to receive their doctorates in science and engineering.

The contributions of HBCUs do not stop there:

  • Even though our nation’s HBCUs make up just 3% of colleges and universities, they graduate 27% of African-American students with bachelor’s degrees in STEM fields.
  • In 2011, HBCUs accounted for graduating one-fourth of the bachelor’s degrees in education awarded to African-Americans.
  • Xavier University, an HBCU, awards more undergraduate degrees in the biological and physical sciences to African-American students than any other university in the nation.
  • A Gallup Poll that surveyed over 60,000 college graduates from a range of all colleges ranked HBCU graduates as having the highest rate of financial, career, and emotional well-being of college graduates.

Companies like Google and Spotify are linking up with HBCUs to recruit talent to address the demographic gaps in the tech industry.

In 2017, Google and Howard University began partnering to create Howard University West. An immersive one-year program, “the residency includes a dedicated workspace on Google’s Mountain View campus, a generous stipend to cover housing and other expenses, and full access to Google resources, including gyms, micro-kitchens, and the eponymous Gbikes.”

Powered by Spotify, The Opening Act || HBCU Conference is a four-day experience, welcoming HBCU students interested in the tech and media industries. Attendees, “…hear from executives and thought leaders within the tech and media industries, see first-hand what a career path in these fields look like, and gain valuable insight into how to achieve career goals. In addition, participants will get the chance to network and build a community with other HBCU students across the nation, all while immersed in the vibrant energy of New York City.”

Does your organization have an outreach plan for #HBCU #recruitment? Click To Tweet

How can your organization create an outreach plan for HBCU recruitment?

  • The first necessary step is to expand your diversity outreach at the earliest stages of your job search. Identify and contact social media personalities, blog writers, and tech interest groups. Establish close working relationships with the Office of the President, Institutional Advancement, Career Placement Coordinators, Academic Deans, Division Chairs, Greek Letter Organizations and other Affinity Groups, and Alumni Networks at HBCUs.
  • Connecting with organizations such as the LINKS, Boule, NAACP, Thurgood Marshall Foundation, UNCF, and many faith-based institutions and conferences such as The Opening Act || HBCU Conference and HBCU@SXSW can also add significant value to your diversity outreach effort.
  • Build new relationships with organizations focused on equitable recruitment, such as:
    • HBCU 20x20, a national diversity and inclusion organization focused on preparing and connecting 20,000 HBCU students and graduates to job and internship opportunities by the year 2020. Since 2017, HBCU 20x20 has directly engaged with over 100,000 students and graduates through campus visits, webinars, career fairs, workshops, social media, and email. HBCU 20x20 has teamed up with companies and organizations dedicated to diversity by connecting them to the most qualified HBCU talent.
    • Knac (formerly 2020Shift) helps companies source, assess, and hire exceptionally prepared talent. Partnering with their clients, Knac matches professionals to open positions.
  • Identify high-performing HBCUs to build relationships with. A few include:

North Carolina A&T University graduates the largest number of black STEM students. It tops all colleges in graduating black engineers.  A&T is also one of the top 25 universities to graduate African-Americans with degrees in the physical sciences, computer science, and math. A&T is also in the top 50 universities in the nation for graduating African-Americans with bachelor’s degrees in biological sciences.

Alabama A&M University is one of the top 50 colleges in the US for graduating African-Americans with bachelor’s degrees in computer science, engineering, math and sciences. It is one of the top 10 HBCUs for graduating black engineers and mathematicians.

Florida A&M University has consistently been among the top 50 colleges in the country for graduating African-Americans in math, engineering, computer science, physical sciences and biological sciences. It is the 4th top HBCU for graduating African-Americans with bachelor’s degrees in biological sciences.

Howard University has been at the forefront of graduating black scientists for decades. It is consistently within the top 10 universities for graduating African-American students in the areas of engineering, biological sciences and physical sciences.

Jackson State University is one of the top 25 universities in the country for graduating African-American mathematicians and engineers. Jackson State is one of the top five colleges in the US for graduating African-Americans with degrees in both physical sciences and biological sciences.

Prairie View State University is one of the top 50 colleges in the nation for graduating African-Americans with bachelor’s degrees in both biological sciences and physical sciences as well as math.  It is one of the top three colleges in the nation for graduating black engineers.

Albert Smith a consultant with Cook Ross. He holds over 10 years of experience leading medium to-large system initiatives in the federal government, non-profit, and private sector. Trained in black cultural studies, queer theory, religious studies, ethics and critical race studies, Albert Earnest Smith, Jr.’s passion for justice and equality sits in the nexus of academia, community development, public policy and grass-root activism. 

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