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By Eric Stirgus, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Madison Grey for (CNT) City News and Talk #atlanta-ga

Tech giant Apple and Atlanta-based Southern Company announced Wednesday they are committing a combined $50 million for an unprecedented effort to help students attending the nation’s Historically Black Colleges & Universities prepare for careers, entrepreneurship and social justice that will be based in Atlanta.

The planned Propel Center will provide curriculum, technology support, career opportunities and other resources to educate and equip students working to advance equity and social justice. The center will be located at the Atlanta University Center — home to Clark Atlanta University, the Interdenominational Theological Center, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine, Morris Brown College and Spelman College.

Construction of the center — a 50,000 square-foot campus equipped with state-of-the-art lecture halls, learning labs, and on-site living for a scholars-in-residence program — is scheduled to begin by the end of this year. Ed Farm, a nonprofit organization that has worked with Apple on educational programs, is a partner in the project.

Apple will provide ongoing support for the center’s curriculum development, technology for in-person and virtual learning spaces, and mentorship and internship opportunities for students.

“The reason we wanted to be a big early supporter is because we love the idea of bringing to the talent that’s already at HBCUs things like coding and creativity and career opportunities and entrepreneurship,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s Vice President of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives who worked from 2009 to 2013 as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s administrator.

Southern Company, the parent of Georgia Power and Southern Company Gas, in January 2020 pledged $50 million for a multi-year initiative to provide scholarships, internships, leadership development, access to technology and innovation to support career readiness for students attending HBCUs within the company system’s service footprint in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

“Our world is changing, so we must do what we can to change the way our students develop as leaders. Along with Apple our investment will yield a return that makes the world a stronger and more equitable place,” said Thomas A. Fanning, the company’s chairman, president and CEO.

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