ATLANTA, Dec. 15, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Southern Company today announced $10 million in grants via the Southern Company Foundation to fund a new and innovative collaboration between INROADS, Inc., one of the nation's largest nonprofit developers of underrepresented talent; and United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, global leaders in providing students at HBCUs with financial support for academic opportunities. The grant provides students with incentives to use their talents to drive economic development in the communities that surround their campuses.
This commitment is part of the $50 million multi-year initiative Southern Company and its subsidiaries announced in 2020 to provide scholarships, internships, leadership development, access to technology and innovation to support career readiness for students attending select HBCUs within the Southern Company system's service footprint. Of that original commitment, $40 million has been pledged to date – including a $25 million founding partnership with Apple to launch the Propel Center; a new digital learning hub; business incubator; and global innovation headquarters in Atlanta for HBCU students; $5 million to increase access to technology for HBCU students and the newest grants announced today.
"Advancing education equity is one of the pillars of our social justice strategy, with a specific focus on building on the already strong relationships we have established across the Southern companies with HBCUs," said Chris Womack, chairman, president and CEO of Georgia Power, the largest electric subsidiary of Southern Company. "We're honored to support this historic collaboration, which will have a positive impact for hundreds of HBCU students who then will be empowered to improve and elevate their communities. We look forward to seeing the success of this program and continued work with the partners in bringing this initiative to life."
The collaboration is focused on job training for the next generation of business and community leaders. Together, INROADS, UNCF and Thurgood Marshall College Fund will provide students and HBCU campuses with scholarships, endowments and paid internships. The scholarships and endowments will be essential to helping HBCUs establish or grow programs in STEM, urban planning, architecture and other programs related to the sustainability industry; while also solving an opportunity gap that plagues talent of color.
"Degrees matter. Careers matter. Impact also matters. Imagine the impact of this initiative as graduates pursue careers focused on developing and ensuring the viability of our communities! Thanks to the Southern Company Foundation for this important investment and innovative collaboration with UNCF and Thurgood Marshall College Fund. This investment will go a long way to provide sustainable impact for HBCUs, their students, and our communities," said Forest T. Harper, Jr., President and CEO, INROADS, Inc.
"This student-centered initiative aims to improve college completion rates of HBCU students, increase the conversion rate of student interns to full-time positions immediately upon graduation, and increase HBCU alumni representation in executive leadership roles in sustainability-related careers," said Dr. Kelly Owens, Chief Impact & Strategy Officer, INROADS, Inc.
"UNCF is proud to be a part of this powerful collaboration spearheaded by the generous gift from Southern Company Foundation. The scholarships, internships and career development will change the lives of many students who may not have the financial means to further their education after earning a high school diploma," said Dr. Michael L. Lomax, president and CEO, UNCF. "With this support, more students will have the opportunity to earn degrees in STEM, business administration, and other disciplines leading toward meaningful careers in the 21st century workforce."
"This partnership is an example of Southern Company moving the needle in the national dialogue on diversity, equity and inclusion," said Dr. Harry L. Williams, President & CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. "We are proud to partner with the Southern Company to support the next generation of leaders from HBCUs, institutions that play a critical role in ensuring young people of color are not left behind."
About Southern Company
Southern Company (NYSE: SO) is a leading energy company serving 9 million customers through its subsidiaries. The company provides clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy through electric operating companies in three states, natural gas distribution companies in four states, a competitive generation company serving wholesale customers across America, a leading distributed energy infrastructure company, a fiber optics network and telecommunications services. Southern Company brands are known for excellent customer service, high reliability and affordable prices below the national average. For more than a century, we have been building the future of energy and developing the full portfolio of energy resources, including carbon-free nuclear, advanced carbon capture technologies, natural gas, renewables, energy efficiency and storage technology. Through an industry-leading commitment to innovation and a low-carbon future, Southern Company and its subsidiaries develop the customized energy solutions our customers and communities require to drive growth and prosperity. Our uncompromising values ensure we put the needs of those we serve at the center of everything we do and govern our business to the benefit of our world. Our corporate culture and hiring practices have been recognized nationally by the U.S. Department of Defense, G.I. Jobs magazine, DiversityInc, Black Enterprise, Forbes and the Women's Choice Award. To learn more, visit www.southerncompany.com.
About INROADS, Inc.:
Founded in 1970, INROADS delivers innovative programs and creative solutions that identify, accelerate and elevate the development of underrepresented talent throughout their careers. Through this development, students become equipped for corporate and community leadership that affects community renewal, social change and elevates economic status and quality of life. INROADS has more than 30,000 alumni, over 900 interns and serves 4,000+ students and 200 corporate clients. Learn more at INROADS.org and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn: @INROADSInc.
About Thurgood Marshall College Fund:
Established in 1987, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) is the nation's largest organization exclusively representing the Black College Community. TMCF member-schools include the publicly-supported Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Predominantly Black Institutions, enrolling nearly 80% of all students attending black colleges and universities.
UNCF (United Negro College Fund) is the nation's largest and most effective minority education organization. To serve youth, the community and the nation, UNCF supports students' education and development through scholarships and other programs, supports and strengthens its 37 member colleges and universities, and advocates for the importance of minority education and college readiness. UNCF institutions and other historically Black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding nearly 20% of African American baccalaureate degrees. UNCF administers more than 400 programs, including scholarship, internship and fellowship, mentoring, summer enrichment, and curriculum and faculty development programs. Today, UNCF supports more than 60,000 students at over 1,100 colleges and universities across the country. Its logo features the UNCF torch of leadership in education and its widely recognized trademark, ‟A mind is a terrible thing to waste."® Learn more at UNCF.org [uncf.org] or for continuous updates and news, follow UNCF on Twitter at @UNCF [twitter.com].
SOURCE Southern Company