Xavier University is getting $5 million from Google as part of an effort to increase diversity in STEM careers, officials announced Thursday.
The private, Catholic university in New Orleans is one of 10 HBCUs, or historically Black colleges and universities, to get such a grant from the tech giant, Google chief diversity officer Melonie Parker announced in a press release.
“These institutions are actively shaping the next generation of Black leaders and are helping build a more diverse workforce across all industries,” Parker said of the colleges and universities that will share $50 million. “This investment further solidifies our commitment to providing access and opportunities for underrepresented groups in tech.”
Xavier officials said the one-time funds, which are unrestricted, would allow the university to give more scholarships and better develop curriculums in STEM, or science, technology, engineering and math, subjects.
It will also help build basic tech infrastructure like WiFi, cloud storage, and hardware, officials said.
The investment is part of Google’s “Pathways to Tech” initiative, announced earlier this year. In addition to investing in HBCUs, the program is designed to help job seekers find tech roles and ensure that Black employees have more opportunities.
Although tech is a growing industry, and Google is among companies trying to diversify hiring, people of color are still woefully underrepresented. Last year, for example, Google released numbers showing that only 5.9% of its employees and contractors were Latino and 3.7% were Black.
The Google grant money comes about a year after Xavier got $20 million — the largest private gift in the school’s nearly 100-year history — from MacKenzie Scott, the famous philanthropist and ex-wife of Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos.
In the news release from Google, Gov. John Bel Edwards said the Google funds would help further the mission of Xavier, an “exemplary HBCU” that has long helped educate Louisianans, while U.S. Rep. Troy Carter said the investment in his alma mater would ensure “equal access to future workforce opportunities” for current students.
State Sen. Karen Carter Peterson said the donation “sends a clear signal that the City of New Orleans is on the map in the tech industry, open for business, and with lots of room to grow.”