HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ) announced billionaire philanthropist Robert F. Smith as this year’s featured speaker at its second annual virtual HBCU technology conference for historically black colleges and universities. Presented by HP with support from partners, Microsoft and Intel, the four-day conference September 13-16 will open with a pre-recorded virtual fireside chat with Smith hosted by HuffPost Editor-in-Chief Danielle Belton on Tuesday, September 13, at 11 a.m. Eastern.
Smith, who is the founder, chairman, and CEO of private equity firm Vista Equity Partners, is a digital
transformation expert who founded the nonprofit Student Freedom Initiative to address college student
debt and other barriers to success for HBCU students. Smith’s participation in the conference has ignited a broader conversation with HP around how the two organizations can work together to accelerate digital transformation at HBCUs through enhanced infrastructure, cybersecurity, talent development and access to tech careers. HBCUs produce 25 percent of Black tech talent and 42 percent of Black engineers.
As part of HP’s ambition to become the world’s most sustainable and just technology company, it
launched the HBCU Technology Conference in 2021 to accelerate digital transformation at HBCUs and
prepare for their students’ digital futures through:
• Greater access to tech careers
• Supporting innovation and tech entrepreneurs
• Enhanced cybersecurity, tech infrastructure and faculty support
• Working with and empowering HBCU leaders
• Advancing access to quality healthcare
“We know that equal access and representation drive better outcomes which leads to innovation. After two years of remote learning and increased cybersecurity threats to institutions, advancing the infrastructure that supports tech curriculum, prepares students for tech careers, and mitigates security threats which is critical to advancing equity.”Lesley Slaton Brown, Chief Diversity Officer, HP.
IT, Faculty, Staff and HBCU leaders will be able to take part in a four-day virtual conference that will
include industry insights and workshops on topics such as safeguarding HBCUs against cybersecurity
attacks, talent development, tech curriculum and diversifying the tech workforce.
“HBCU partnership with the tech industry will increase awareness and access, and offer opportunities to be at the table with advocates who can go to bat for the brilliant talent on HBCU campuses who will add value to tech corporations. Equally important is to have in place modern tech infrastructure to protect against ransomware attacks that threaten students’ privacy and institutions’ ability to thrive.”Thomas K. Hudson, J.D., President, Jackson State University
HP’s commitment to HBCUs
In addition to the tech conference, HP, a founding member of the HBCU Business Deans Roundtable,
hosts an annual HBCU Business Challenge and invites students to craft a solution to an HP business
challenge. The most recent HP Business Challenge, won by South Carolina State University’s team, called for the HBCU teams to build a model to change the bottom line for HP’s Reverb G2 Omnicept Edition virtual reality headset.
The 6th Annual HP HBCU Business Challenge has officially launched, and
registration is now open. Go to http://www.hp.com/diversity for more information.
HP helped solidify the first relationship of its kind between the New York Stock Exchange and an HBCU.
HP also joined the Congressional Bipartisan HBCU Caucus’ HBCU Partnership Challenge to further
strengthen its relationships and programming with HBCUs.
In 2020, HP launched an innovative 3D printing learning pilot program at North Carolina A&T State
University and partnered with Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU) and presented the school with an
endowment to establish the HP Cybersecurity Scholarship. HP’s growing investments in HBCUs demonstrate its commitment to reflect the diverse markets and customers that the company serves.