A new partnership with Google will offer some Howard University students the chance to leave the "Chocolate City" for Silicon Valley.
The tech giant announced Thursday the creation of "Howard West," a satellite campus of the Washington, D.C. historically black college that will be stationed at the Googleplex in Mountainview, California. The new campus will serve as a three month residency for juniors and seniors in Howard's computer science program and aims to get more black software engineers from HBCUs involved in tech.
"Howard West will produce hundreds of industry-ready Black computer science graduates, future leaders with the power to transform the global technology space into a stronger, more accurate reflection of the world around us," Howard University President Dr. Wayne Frederick said a statement. "We envisioned this program with bold outcomes in mind - to advance a strategy that leverages Howard's high quality faculty and Google's expertise, while also rallying the tech industry and other thought leaders around the importance of diversity in business and the communities they serve."
In a field where diversity is severely lacking, just 2 percent of Googles' overall workforce are Black, while whites account for 59 percent and Asians account for 32 percent. Whites also account for 57 percent of Google's technology force, while Asians make up 37 percent. Blacks make up just 1 percent of their tech force.
Google Global Partnerships Vice President and Howard Alumna Bonita Stewart said the partnership will open the door of opportunity for black students from HBCU's and help them advance in technology.
"The lack of exposure, access to mentors and role models are critical gaps that Howard West will solve. We've also heard that many CS students struggle to find the time to practice coding while juggling a full course load and part-time jobs," Stewart said. "Left unchecked, systematic barriers lead to low engagement and enrollment in CS, low retention in CS programs and a lack of proximity and strong relationships between the Silicon Valley, HBCUs and the larger African American Community."