(LITTLE ROCK, AR) – Philander Smith College, a private historically black liberal arts college located in Little Rock, Arkansas, was recently named a recipient of a $300,000 award from Microsoft to participate in the company’s community skills grant program. The grant will provide unrestricted funds over the next three years to support the institution’s WISE P3 workforce development initiative.

“This recognition by Microsoft amplifies our vision to enhance employability skills as part of our commitment to workforce development in Arkansas. We are so pleased that Philander Smith College has been cited for the demonstrated focus we are placing on information technology, which is such an important aspect of job skills training,” said Roderick L. Smothers Sr., Philander Smith College’s President.

Microsoft’s community skills program is a part of its broader commitment to skills for employability and promoting racial equity in the United States. It is a $15 million investment over three years to accelerate the work of Black- and African American- led nonprofits that provide digital skills and workforce development to Black and African American communities.

The Center for Workforce Innovation and Strategic Economic Public-Private Partnerships (WISE P3) at Philander Smith College has been operational for five years and is spearheaded by Executive Director Glenn Sergeant.

Acknowledging the technology company’s investment, Sergeant said, “With this grant award to WISE P3, Microsoft has taken a giant step towards its recent commitment to put its data, technology, and partnerships to work to help improve the lives of African Americans across the country.” He continued, “Further, it will be instrumental in helping Philander Smith College reach its goal in reducing barriers that have largely kept Black Arkansas from accessing the millions of jobs created in the tech sector in the last decade alone.”

One of the 50 community-based nonprofits to participate in its community skills grant program nationwide, Philander Smith College was the only institution of higher learning to receive an award. In addition to financial support, the College will also receive concierge service from Microsoft’s Tech for Social Impact (TSI) team that will include on-demand technical support along with Microsoft software and services.

###

About the Microsoft Community Skills Program: Microsoft is a technoloy company whose mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. Microsoft strives to create local opportunities, growth, and impact in every country around the world. Microsoft’s grant strategy aligns with a broader community skills program that is grounded in the idea that everyone should have access to digital skills, and community racial justice work that harnesses technology to rebalance the odds for Black Americans, especially where work is concerned. More information about the Microsoft Community Skills Program can be found at https://news.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/2020/09/02/digital-skills-grants-icstars-tech-diversity/.

About Philander Smith College
Philander Smith College, founded in 1877, is one of the oldest private, historically black institutions of higher learning in Arkansas. A four-year liberal arts college, the institution is affiliated with the United Methodist Church and is the only United Negro College Fund member school in the state. The College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of NCA. For more information, visit www.philander.edu.

(FAIRFIELD, Ala. – 11/23/20) – Miles College announced a multi-million dollar collaboration with IBM on a comprehensive program designed to develop diverse and high demand skill sets that align with industry needs and trends so both students and faculty can develop the skills they need today for the jobs of tomorrow.

IBM and Miles College are building on the need to advance digital skills in education and are dedicated to providing future focused curriculum and educational tools to help train the diverse workforce of tomorrow in fast-growing technologies such as Al, blockchain, data science, cybersecurity, cloud and quantum.

“Miles College celebrates IBM’s leadership in recognizing the value of investing in HBCU students as current and future leaders and innovators in the technology workforce,” said Bobbie Knight, Miles College President. “While the digital divide has historically placed many students as a technological disadvantage, this initiative will absolutely help narrow the gap,” said Knight.

The collaboration extends IBM’s recent investment in technology, assets, resources and skills development with HBCUs across the United State through the IBM Skills Academy Academic Initiative.

“Equal access to skills and jobs is the key to unlocking economic opportunity and prosperity for diverse populations,” said Valinda Scarbro Kennedy, HBCU Program Lead, IBM Global University Programs. “As we announced earlier this fall, IBM is deeply committed to helping HBCU students build their skills to better prepare for the future of work. Through this collaboration, Miles College students will have an opportunity to gain modern skills in emerging technologies across hybrid cloud, quantum, and Al so they can be better prepared for the future of work in the digital economy.”

As part of its multi-year Global University Programs which include the IBM Academic Initiative and the IBM Skills Academy, IBM is providing more than $100M in assets, faculty training, pre-built and maintained curriculum content, hands on labs, use cases, digital badges and software to select HBCUs. The IBM Academic Initiative provides access to resources at no-charge for teaching, learning and non-commercial research with recent enhancements including access to guest lectures. The IBM Skills Academy is a comprehensive, integrated program through an education portal designed to create a foundation of diverse and high demand skill sets that directly correlate to what students will need in the workplace. The learning tracks address topics such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, blockchain, data science and quantum computing.

IBM’s investment in HBCUs like Miles College is part of the company’s dedicated work to promote social justice and racial equality by creating equitable, innovative experiences for HBCU students to acquire the necessary skills to help unlock economic opportunity and prosperity.

###

About IBM
IBM is a global leader in business transformation, serving clients in more than 170 countries around the world with open hybrid cloud and Al technology. For more information, visit www.ibm.com.

About Miles College
Miles College, founded in 1898, is a premier liberal arts institution located in metropolitan Birmingham within the corporate limits of the City of Fairfield. The noble founders of the institution saw educated leadership as the paramount need in the black community. Miles, which is fully accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and accredited by Commission on Colleges for the awarding of Baccalaureate Degrees, is the only four-year institution in historic Birmingham, Alabama designated as a member of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU).For more information, visit www.miles.edu.