The Propel Center, a first-of-its-kind ideation hub for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), has announced a new collaboration with The Walt Disney Company designed to prepare promising young innovators for careers in the arts, media, entertainment and hospitality industries.

  Revealed at the 2022 HBCU Philanthropy Symposium in D.C., the announcement detailed how Propel and Disney will work together to provide meaningful support, mentors, internships and a guest speakers series as part of the expansive opportunities being made available to the future storytellers and innovators from underrepresented communities. 

Through this collaboration, Disney will also work with HBCU faculty and other industry leaders to co-develop curriculum that will position students for successful recruitment into these desired professions.

  The initial curriculum will focus on the areas of technology and hospitality where Disney has a significant number of entry-level career opportunities. The hope is to create a bridge between the academic training students receive and the job opportunities available to them in the industry.

  “The launch of this new collaboration with The Walt Disney Company positions the Propel Center to continue its important work of providing unprecedented opportunities and access to HBCUs,” said Anthony Oni, Education Farm’s board chairman and the founder of Ed Farm and Propel. “This collaboration is much more than an important moment. It’s also an opportunity to invest in HBCUs in ways that advance student learning and opportunities; while participating in the HBCU tradition of developing transformative leaders.”

  “At Disney, we know that technology and hospitality play a huge role in telling great stories and creating seamless consumer experiences. We want to give HBCU students the opportunity to build the skills necessary in these areas to help them succeed in their careers,” said Jennifer Cohen, executive vice president, Corporate Social Responsibility. “With the help of Propel’s network and expertise, we hope to reach more students and empower them with the experience and confidence to push storytelling forward.”

Waymond Jackson, CEO of Education Farm agreed.

  “The Propel Center is a bold and transformational initiative impacting the entire HBCU ecosystem,” said Jackson. “Through cutting-edge curriculum, innovative technology, trending thought leadership, and other opportunities such as the ones this exciting new Disney collaboration presents, Propel aims to elevate how HBCU scholars see and experience the world. By equipping them with the resources, training, and tools they need to become leaders who advance equity, transform the talent pipeline, and tell their stories, we are ensuring that they are prepared to fill and create the jobs of the future.”

  This collaboration with Propel is part of the Disney Future Storytellers initiative. Through social investments and collaborations such as these, Disney is increasing access to careers in storytelling and innovation for those who have been historically underrepresented. From arts and STEM programs for school-age children to scholarships, storytelling and technical skills-building programs for teens and young adults, Disney is helping today’s youth to pursue their dreams, build their talents and skills, and become who they imagine they can be.

  Education Farm (Ed Farm) was launched in February 2020 in Birmingham, Alabama to create programs designed to engage students, educators and adult learners in innovative digital skills experiences that better prepare them for the 21st-century workforce.  Supported by founding partners Apple Inc. and Alabama Power Company, Ed Farm is expanding its ed-tech initiatives and its footprint across the country, building upon the existing programming and work taking place in Birmingham, Ala. 

  The Propel Center is a first-of-its-kind innovation hub for the entire HBCU community of colleges serving as a catalytic epicenter of learning, providing students with the knowledge, skills, tools and resources necessary to transform the nation’s talent pipeline and workforce. Through a robust virtual platform, on-campus activities at partner institutions and a physical campus to be located near the Atlanta University Center, Propel will provide innovative curricula and unprecedented leadership opportunities in order to produce the next generation of Black leaders. To learn more, visit propelcenter.org.

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