Cisco Commits $150 to Help HBCU Tech Wants, Endowments

A new partnership between two technology companies and the student-focused nonprofit Student Freedom Initiative (SFI) is taking a big swing at the digitization efforts of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), with Cisco committing $150 million and AVC Technologies offering assessments and technical support.

According to a news release, Cisco will invest $100 million to provide HBCUs with “networking, security and collaboration technologies” and IT support services to address cybersecurity and digital infrastructure needs. AVC Technologies will work with institutions to identify IT needs set by the Department of Education Federal Student Aid (FSA) Office and assist with tech installation. Cisco will also provide HBCUs with one year of technical support, while SFI will offer project integration and management services.

“We are thrilled to welcome Cisco and AVC Technologies as strategic partners for SFI in addressing the digital divide faced by our HBCUs,” SFI Chairman Robert F. Smith said in a public statement. “Their expertise and generosity will ensure that HBCUs are secure and robust institutions that empower Black students.”

As part of the partnership, Cisco will invest an additional $50 million to support SFI’s income-contingent alternative to traditional college loans as part of an effort by the nonprofit to raise $450 million for 4,500 HBCU students.

“Cisco is proud to support SFI and all HBCUs in this endeavor, which reinforces our purpose to power an inclusive future for all,” Cisco COO Maria Martinez said in the partnership announcement.

“This partnership is an investment in our future workforce, empowering AA/Black STEM students and equipping them with the financial and technology tools to be resilient and successful long term.”

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