Why Is STEM Education Important?

A Black woman wearing a hard hat and holding a clipboard stands in front of solar panels

Key Takeaways:

  • STEM education involves interdisciplinary learning in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
  • STEM education helps give rise to scientific and computational literacy, innovative ideas and new technologies through advancement in critical thinking, problem-solving, teamwork and adaptability skills.
  • Entrepreneur Robert F. Smith started his career in STEM as a chemical engineer. He is a staunch advocate for STEM learning in all levels of education and STEM’s importance in today’s innovative world.

STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education helps fuel the innovation of tomorrow. STEM’s method of instruction prepares students for diverse career opportunities and can be a driving force for economic growth, global competitiveness and a deeper understanding of the world around us. Without a STEM education framework, some of the greatest scientific developments may have never been discovered, demonstrating the importance of STEM education and its crucial role in our ever-changing world.

Read on to learn more about why STEM education is important, the benefits of STEM education and how entrepreneur and philanthropist Robert F. Smith’s background in STEM has shaped his accomplished career.

What Is STEM Education, and Why Is It Important?

STEM education is experiential and addresses multiple disciplines within its comprehensive learning structure. While STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, it has expanded past the basics to include pivotal technological capabilities of robotics and computer science. It is paramount that the range of disciplines continually expands to generate scientific and technological breakthroughs that will advance the global population.

As previously mentioned, STEM learning equips students with the ability to take on complex global and social issues and allows them to engage in authentic, real-world applications to prepare them for future careers. STEM education helps birth academics, researchers, engineers, innovators and entrepreneurs who will educate and bring forth much-needed technological advancements. However, despite the push for STEM education, there is a lack of STEM professionals in the workforce, making initiatives and funding for STEM even more vital.

While more than $550 million dollars of government funding was invested in STEM curriculum in 2019, companies can also do their part to educate students on the importance of STEM education. Work-based learning (WBL) is an opportunity for companies and organizations to partner with educational institutions to prepare students for STEM careers. These learning opportunities include, but are not limited to, internships, apprenticeships and mentorship programs. STEM-focused WBL programs can create highly informed, STEM-literate future employees for businesses and government agencies.

Let’s Connect

Stay in-
the-know

Stay in-the-know

What Are Some Benefits of STEM Education?

STEM education provides students with distinct knowledge and skill sets that can support their professional endeavors. STEM-based education and activities train students to push the envelope through experimentation, project-based learning, analytical reasoning and complex problem solving. STEM professionals employ these skills in their real-life work environments of STEM occupations and emphasize STEM education’s importance in uplifting the global economy.

STEM education can also nurture STEM concepts and hands-on learning experiences that encourage curiosity, acceptance of failure, resourcefulness and improvement of communication skills. Below are some highlights of the benefits of STEM education.

STEM Fosters Important Skills

STEM education cultivates essential skills in critical thinking, problem-solving, design innovation, decision-making, digital and computational literacy, teamwork and adaptability in the next generation of STEM professionals.2,4, STEM education also promotes scientific, media and technology literacy and rational and theoretical thought. These skills allow individuals to make informed decisions about scientific and technological issues while fostering collaboration and creativity.

STEM Prepares Students for a Growing Career Field

STEM has become a growing industry in the U.S. The focus and high demand for STEM-trained employees in the labor force are significant. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts an 8% growth in STEM jobs through 2029. Additionally, Bureau data reveals that 75% of the top-ranked, highest-paid jobs are related to STEM.

STEM Education Creates Professionals Who Can Help Grow the Economy

Accessibility to STEM education starting in primary school to higher learning institutions leads to the growth of the modern innovation economy.10 STEM helps bolster the economy by introducing new employment opportunities, including creating jobs in rural areas, closing the racial wealth gap, working to resolve income inequality and increasing women in STEM’s salaries.

How a STEM Education Helped Robert F. Smith

STEM education has helped many succeed, and STEM-educated thought leader, dealmaker, entrepreneur and philanthropist Robert F. Smith is a great example. He earned his Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from Cornell University in 1985. During his high school years, Smith was persistent in his pursuit of a collegiate-level internship at Bell Labs. Smith’s tenacity for furthering his education and creating a professional pathway helped him work through the hiring obstacles he faced as a high school student applying for a college-level internship. He continued his internship at Bell Labs through his years at Cornell University, using his experience to further his career.

Following his graduation, Smith worked for Goodyear Tire and Rubber and Kraft General Foods as a chemical engineer. While at these companies, Smith developed patents for a coffee brewing element and a coffee brewer filtration device.

Smith then used the skills he learned through his STEM training, including critical thinking, adaptability and decision-making skills, to eventually pivot his career. He pursued his MBA from Columbia Business School in 1994 and founded Vista Equity Partners in 2000, a leading goal investment firm that specifically invests in enterprise software, data and technology-enabled businesses.

Smith believes a more inclusive STEM education system made up of scholars from underrepresented communities is a catalyst for a more diverse future workforce. He supports companies and initiatives that underscore the importance of STEM education, including internXL, a Fund II Foundation internship initiative, and Student Freedom Initiative (SFI).

Follow Robert F. Smith on LinkedIn to learn more about why STEM education is important and other related topics.

Across our Communities

MBE Entrepreneurship & Supplier Diversity

1. Provide technical expertise: offer subject matter and technical expertise to catalyze and support community initiatives 

E.g., tax/accounting experts to help MBEs file taxes

E.g., business experts to help MBEs better access capital and craft business plans to scale their teams and operations

Access to Capital (CDFI/MDI)

2. Fund modernization & capacity-building and provide in-kind subject matter experts – $30M: help 4-5 CDFIs/MDIs over 5 years modernize their core systems, hire and train staff, expand marketing and standup SWAT team of experts to conduct needs diagnostic, implement tech solution & provide technical assistance

Systems and technology modernization – $10M-15M: Add/upgrade core banking systems, hardware and productivity tools, train frontline workforce on new systems & technology and hire engineering specialists to support customization and news systems rollout – over 5 years

Talent and workforce – $10M: hire and train additional frontline lending staff and invest in recruiting, training, compensation & benefits and retention to increase in-house expertise and loan capacity – over 5 years

Other capacity-building and outreach – $8M: hire additional staff to increase custom borrower and technical assistance (e.g., credit building, MBE financing options, etc.) and increase community outreach to drive regional awareness and new pipeline projects – over 5 years

Education/HBCU & Workforce Development

3. Offer more paid internships: signup onto InternX and offer 25+ additional paid internships per year to HBCU/Black students 

Digital Access

4. Issue digital access equality bonds: issue equality progress bonds and invest proceeds into SCI’s digital access initiatives

5. Fund HBCU campus-wide internet – up to $50M in donations or in-kind: Partner with the Student Freedom Initiative to deliver campus-wide high-speed internet at ~10 HBCUs across SCI regions

Advocacy

6. Be an advocate for SCI priorities: engage federal and state agencies to drive policy and funding improvements to better support SCI’s near-term priorities

E.g., Engage the Small Business Administration and Minority Business Development Agency to increase technical assistance programs and annual spend to better support Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs) with capital and scaling needs

E.g., Ask the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to include multi-dwelling unit connectivity in its new broadband connectivity maps and ask the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to allow non-FCC data in state broadband plans to unlock ~$285M in potential government broadband funding for 5 SCI regions

Directly Fund SCI

7. Invest directly into SCI (coming soon): provide funding for SCI to pool and invest in community initiatives that are most well-positioned for funding and can drive direct community impact.

Memphis, Tennessee

Lead community organization: The Collective Blueprint

MBE Entrepreneurship & Supplier Diversity

Our ambition:

Increase the volume and value of Black-owned businesses – through corporate MBE spend and MBE startups & scaling

1. Scale technical assistance – $15M: fund* to expand technical assistance through business coaches and wrap-around services for 500+ MBEs over 5 years to help them scale from <$1M to $5M+ in annual revenue

2. Standup MBE fund – $15M: standup/scale MBE fund* to offer more flexible access to capital arrangements 400-500 MBEs over 5 years

 * Lead organization: The Collective Blueprint; Contributing local organizations for community strategy include (but not limited to): Community Unlimited, Women’s Business Center South, Epicenter, others

Estimated impact (of all initiatives): 2.3x increase in MBE value & 20K+ new jobs, boosting Black community’s net worth by ~$3B+

Access to Capital (CDFI/MDI)

Our ambition:

Modernize CDFI/MDI systems and tech as well as recruit and upskill talent to increase CDFI/MDI capacity and ability to inject more capital into Black communities

3. Provide loan guarantees – $15M: create a fund* to provide 80% loan guarantees over 5 years to encourage lender participation and inject more capital into the community

4. Conduct advocacy: ask US Treasury & Tennessee State to allow Tennessee CDFIs/MDIs to retain SSBCI capital & offer loan guarantees to boost loan issuance

5. Fund modernization & capacity-building and provide in-kind subject matter experts – $30M: help 4-5 CDFIs/MDIs** over 5 years modernize their core systems, hire and train staff, expand marketing and standup a SWAT team of experts to conduct needs diagnostic, implement tech solution & provide technical assistance

  • Systems and technology modernization – $10M-15M: Add/upgrade core banking systems, hardware and productivity tools, train frontline workforce on new systems & technology and hire engineering specialists to support customization and news systems rollout – over 5 years
  • Talent and workforce – $10M: hire and train additional frontline lending staff and invest in recruiting, training, compensation & benefits and retention to increase in-house expertise and loan capacity – over 5 years
  • Other capacity-building and outreach – $8M: hire additional staff to increase custom borrower and technical assistance (e.g., credit building, MBE financing options, etc.) and increase community outreach to drive regional awareness and new pipeline projects – over 5 years

* Leading organizations for community strategy include (but not limited to): Community LIFT, Memphis CDFI Network, etc.

* In partnership with National Bankers Association and Appalachian Community Capital; CDFIs/MDIs being considered include: Community Unlimited, Hope Credit Union, River City Capital, United Housing Inc, etc.

Estimated impact (of all initiatives): ~$330M+ in additional loans per year to support ~30K+ MBEs

Education/HBCU & Workforce Development

Our ambition:

Lower financial burden for Black students, increase number of Black college graduates, increase Black workforce and executive representation and their access to high-paying jobs

6. Standup training hub – $30M: fund* the establishment a world-class training hub that offers certificate-granting STEM and innovation programs in advanced manufacturing, health care, etc. to 10K+ youths

7. Fund SFI program – $7M: fund the Student Freedom Initiative’s Income Contingent Alternative to Parent Plus to support ~15 Black STEM students per year forever at 4 HBCUs**

* Lead organization: The Collective Blueprint; Contributing local organizations for community strategy include (but not limited to): Greater Memphis Chamber and Workforce Midsouth

** Minority Serving Institutions / HBCUs with STEM programs being considered: Le Moyne-Owen, Baptist Memorial, University of Memphis, Rust College

Estimated impact (of all initiatives): 8K+ additional college graduates and 10K workers with high-paying wages to drive ~$1B+ in economic growth

Digital Access

Our ambition:

Increase accessibility, affordability and adoption of high-speed Internet

8. Accelerate digital access initiatives – $75M: partner with local orgs* to invest in setting up internet connections / installing hotspots, offering laptops and supporting adoption (through government subsidy technical assistance and digital literacy) to connect ~135K homes to high-speed internet in the Memphis region

9. Raise community awareness & adoption of Emergency Broadband Benefit: increase door-to-door and community outreach in low-income neighborhoods to get households onto EBB to help connect ~135K unconnected households 

 * Lead organization: The Collective Blueprint; Contributing local organizations for community strategy include (but not limited to): CodeCrew

Estimated impact (of all initiatives): ~135K households connected to high-speed internet to unlock ~$2B+ in economic potential

Houston, Texas

Lead community organization: Greater Houston Partnership

MBE Entrepreneurship & Supplier Diversity

Our ambition:

Increase the volume and value of Black-owned businesses – through corporate MBE spend and MBE startups & scaling

1. Scale team – ~$3M: hire 3-4 FTEs over 5 years for One Houston Together* to help companies increase MBE spend from ~2% to 5-10%+ as well as BIPOC workforce advancement and BIPOC board representation 

2. Increase MBE certification and scale technical assistance – ~$2M: partner with One Houston Together* and the Houston Minority Supplier Development Council (HSMDC)** to certify additional MBEs, develop Minority Business Finder database tool and provide resources and services to help local MBEs scale and participate in Pathways to Excellence program

3. Commit to increase racial diversity in supply chain and procurement: increase MBE spend in Greater Houston region* to 5-10%+

* One Houston Together serves as lead (please contact if you are interested in funding these initiatives)

** Houston Minority Supplier Development Council (HSMDC) serves as a partner organization (please contact if you are interested in learning more about this initiative)

Estimated impact (of all initiatives): 2.5x increase in MBE value & ~55K new jobs, boosting Black community’s net worth by ~$12B 

Access to Capital (CDFI/MDI)

Our ambition:

Modernize CDFI/MDI systems and tech as well as recruit and upskill talent to increase CDFI/MDI capacity and ability to inject more capital into Black communities

4. Fund modernization & capacity-building and provide in-kind subject matter experts – $30M: help 4-5 CDFIs/MDIs* over 5 years modernize their core systems, hire and train staff, expand marketing and standup SWAT team of experts to conduct needs diagnostic, implement tech solution & provide technical assistance

  • Systems and technology modernization – $10M-15M: Add/upgrade core banking systems, hardware and productivity tools, train frontline workforce on new systems & technology and hire engineering specialists to support customization and news systems rollout – over 5 years
  • Talent and workforce – $10M: hire and train additional frontline lending staff and invest in recruiting, training, compensation & benefits and retention to increase in-house expertise and loan capacity – over 5 years
  • Other capacity-building and outreach – $8M: hire additional staff to increase custom borrower and technical assistance (e.g., credit building, MBE financing options, etc.) and increase community outreach to drive regional awareness and new pipeline projects – over 5 years

* In partnership with National Bankers Association and Appalachian Community Capital; CDFIs/MDIs being considered include: Unity National Bank, Unity Bank of Texas, PeopleFund, Houston Business Development Inc, etc.

Estimated impact (of all initiatives): ~$330M in additional loans per year to support ~30K MBEs

Education/HBCU & Workforce Development

Our ambition:

Lower financial burden for Black students, increase number of Black college graduates, increase Black workforce and executive representation and their access to high-paying jobs

5. Fund SFI program – $120M: fund the Student Freedom Initiative’s Income Contingent Alternative to Parent Plus* to support ~1.2K Black STEM students per year forever at 7 HBCUs**

* Student Freedom Initiative serves as lead (main contact if you are interested in learning more and funding this initiative)

** Minority Serving Institutions / HBCUs with STEM programs being considered: Texas Southern University, University of Houston, Prairie View A&M University, Houston Baptist University, University of Houston-Clear Lake, University of Houston-Downtown, University of St Thomas.  

Estimated impact (of all initiatives): 5K+ additional college grads & ~600 workers with senior exec positions / high-paying wages to drive ~$0.2B in economic growth

Digital Access

Our ambition:

Increase accessibility, affordability and adoption of high-speed Internet

6. Accelerate SCI’s digital access initiatives – up to $80M in donations or in-kind: invest in setting up internet connections / hotspots, offer laptops/Chromebooks and support adoption (through government subsidy technical assistance and digital literacy) to connect ~145K homes to high-speed internet in the Houston region*

7. Raise community awareness & adoption of Emergency Broadband Benefit: increase door-to-door and community outreach in low-income neighborhoods to get households onto EBB to help connect ~145K unconnected households 

* Community organization(s) being identified 

Estimated impact (of all initiatives): ~145K households connected to high-speed internet to unlock ~$3B in economic potential

Greater New Orleans, Louisiana

Lead community organization: Urban League of Louisiana

MBE Entrepreneurship & Supplier Diversity

Our ambition:

Increase the volume and value of Black-owned businesses – through corporate MBE spend and MBE startups & scaling

1. Scale Black Business Works Fund – $10M: grow the Urban League of Louisiana’s Black Business Works Fund to support ~3K-4K MBEs over 5 years with emergency working capital needs to support/sustain ~$1B+ in annual revenues

2. Scale technical assistance – $20M: fund the Urban League of Louisiana, New Orleans Business Alliance, Thrive New Orleans and Propellor to scale bookkeeping, B2C payment, marketing support & subsidized rent to scale 200+ MBEs from <$1M to $5M+ in annual revenue

Estimated impact (of all initiatives): 2.5x increase in MBE value & 8K+ new jobs, boosting Black community’s net worth by ~$2B+

Access to Capital (CDFI/MDI)

Our ambition:

Modernize CDFI/MDI systems and tech as well as recruit and upskill talent to increase CDFI/MDI capacity and ability to inject more capital into Black communities

3. Fund modernization & capacity-building and provide in-kind subject matter experts – $30M: help 4-5 CDFIs/MDIs* over 5 years modernize their core systems, hire and train staff, expand marketing and standup SWAT teams to conduct needs diagnostic, implement tech solution & provide technical assistance

  • Systems and technology modernization – $10M-15M: Add/upgrade core banking systems, hardware and productivity tools, train frontline workforce on new systems & technology and hire engineering specialists to support customization and news systems rollout – over 5 years
  • Talent and workforce – $10M: hire and train additional frontline lending staff and invest in recruiting, training, compensation & benefits and retention to increase in-house expertise and loan capacity – over 5 years
  • Other capacity-building and outreach – $8M: hire additional staff to increase custom borrower and technical assistance (e.g., credit building, MBE financing options, etc.) and increase community outreach to drive regional awareness and new pipeline projects – over 5 years

* In partnership with National Bankers Association and Appalachian Community Capital; CDFIs/MDIs being considered include: New Orleans Business Alliance (community convener), Liberty, TruFund, LiftFund, NewCorp, etc.

Estimated impact (of all initiatives): ~$330M in additional loans per year to support ~30K MBEs

Education/HBCU & Workforce Development

Our ambition:

Lower financial burden for Black students, increase number of Black college graduates, increase Black workforce and executive representation and their access to high-paying jobs

4. Subsidize internships & apprenticeships – $40M: fund the New Orleans Youth Alliance, YouthForce NOLA and the Urban League of Louisiana to place and help subsidize apprenticeships, internships and other work-based learning experiences for ~20K young adults in high-pay sectors (e.g., energy)

5. Fund SFI program – $12M: fund the Student Freedom Initiative’s Income Contingent Alternative to Parent Plus to support ~120 Black STEM students per year forever at 3 HBCUs*

* Minority Serving Institutions / HBCUs being considered: Dillard University, Southern University – New Orleans and Xavier University of Louisiana

6. Scale career prep – ~$10M: scale the New Orleans Youth Alliance and YouthForce NOLA with 15-20 coaches over 5 years to equip ~20K young adults with skills for high-paying industries, job search & prep and subsidized transportation

Estimated impact (of all initiatives): ~2K additional college graduates and ~20K workers with high-paying wages to drive ~$1B in economic growth

Digital Access

Our ambition:

Increase accessibility, affordability and adoption of high-speed Internet

7. Accelerate SCI’s digital access initiatives – up to $35M in donations or in-kind: partner with New Orleans’s Office of Information Technology & Innovation and Education SuperHighway to invest in setting up internet connections / hotspots, offering laptops/Chromebook and supporting adoption (through government subsidy technical assistance and digital literacy) to connect ~55K homes to high-speed internet in Greater New Orleans region

8. Raise community awareness & adoption of Emergency Broadband Benefit: increase door-to-door and community outreach in low-income neighborhoods to get households onto EBB to help connect ~55K unconnected households

Estimated impact (of all initiatives): 55K households connected to high-speed internet to unlock ~$1B in economic potential

Charlotte, North Carolina

Lead community organization: Charlotte Regional Business Alliance

MBE Entrepreneurship & Supplier Diversity

Our ambition:

Increase the volume and value of Black-owned businesses – through corporate MBE spend and MBE startups & scaling

1. Offer in-kind FTEs: provide 2-5 in-kind FTEs to the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance (CRBA) over 5 years to convene corporate partners, assess their MBE spend, develop pipeline to increase MBE spend to 5-10%+

2. Offer technical assistance expertise: partner with the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance (CRBA) to advise/mentor ~200 MBEs on capital/loan access to help them scale from <$10M to $50M+

3. Commit to supplier diversity: increase MBE spend in Charlotte region to 5-10%+

Estimated impact (of all initiatives): 3x increase in MBE value & ~13K new jobs, boosting Black community’s net worth by ~$2B+

Access to Capital (CDFI/MDI)

Our ambition:

Modernize CDFI/MDI systems and tech as well as recruit and upskill talent to increase CDFI/MDI capacity and ability to inject more capital into Black communities

4. Fund modernization & capacity-building and provide in-kind subject matter experts – $30M: help 4-5 CDFIs/MDIs* over 5 years modernize their core systems, hire and train staff, expand marketing and standup SWAT team of experts to conduct needs diagnostic, implement tech solution & provide technical assistance; in-kind experts to also help build out the MBE ecosystem through CDFIs/MDIs, market CDFI/MDI offerings and programs and help draft final loan agreements to qualify borrowers between investment fund(s) and CDFIs/MDIs

* CDFIs/MDIs being considered (examples and not exhaustive): Security Federal Bank, Institute / North Carolina Community Development Initiative, Sequoyah Fund Inc, Self-Help Credit Union, BEFCOR, Aspire Community Capital, etc.

  • Systems and technology modernization – $10M-15M: Add/upgrade core banking systems, hardware and productivity tools, train frontline workforce on new systems & technology and hire engineering specialists to support customization and news systems rollout – over 5 years
  • Talent and workforce – $10M: hire and train additional frontline lending staff and invest in recruiting, training, compensation & benefits and retention to increase in-house expertise and loan capacity – over 5 years
  • Other capacity-building and outreach – $8M: hire additional staff to increase custom borrower and technical assistance (e.g., credit building, MBE financing options, etc.) and increase community outreach to drive regional awareness and new pipeline projects – over 5 years

* In partnership with National Bankers Association and Appalachian Community Capital; CDFIs/MDIs being considered include: Security Federal Bank, Institute / North Carolina Community Development Initiative, Sequoyah Fund Inc, etc.

Estimated impact (of all initiatives): ~$330M in additional loans per year to support ~30K MBEs

Education/HBCU & Workforce Development

Our ambition:

Lower financial burden for Black students, increase number of Black college graduates, increase Black workforce and executive representation and their access to high-paying jobs

5. Fund SFI program – up to $10M: fund the Student Freedom Initiative’s HELPS program to support ~1.5K+ students per year at HBCUs* with emergency expenses – e.g., unexpected health costs, late rent payments, etc.

* Minority Serving Institutions / HBCUs in Charlotte that are being considered: Johnson C. Smith University, Johnson & Wales University – Charlotte, Charlotte Christian College

6. Provide in-kind staff: offer 2-5 FTEs to the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance (CRBA)over 5 years to track Black-/Brown-executive representation, convene corporate partners to develop executive pipeline and hiring plans and support corporate partners to increase representation from ~10% to 30%+

Estimated impact (of all initiatives): 2.5K+ additional college graduates and 2.5K workers with high-paying wages to drive ~$0.2B in economic growth

Digital Access

Our ambition:

Increase accessibility, affordability and adoption of high-speed Internet

7. Raise community awareness & adoption of Emergency Broadband Benefit: increase door-to-door and community outreach in low-income neighborhoods to get households onto EBB to help connect ~35K unconnected households

Estimated impact (of all initiatives): ~35K households get connected to high-speed internet to unlock ~$700M in economic potential for Charlotte

Birmingham, Alabama

Lead community organization: Prosper Birmingham

MBE Entrepreneurship & Supplier Diversity

Our ambition:

Increase the volume and value of Black-owned businesses – through corporate MBE spend and MBE startups & scaling

1. Fund startups and give access to investor network – $70M: grow the Prosper Health Tech Fund – powered by Gener8tor – and offer venture capital technical assistance to scale 50+ startups from <$1M to $5M+ in annual revenue; near-term priority is to secure $4M in venture investment by end of May 2022

2. Fund technical assistance – $25M: fund Prosper Birmingham, Magic City Match, and Birmingham Business Alliance to establish/expand business advisory programs, renovate and subsidize retail/office space for MBEs and scale coaches & support services (e.g., digital footprint, B2C platforms, accounting & bookkeeping, recruitment, etc.) to help 100+ MBEs scale from <$1M to $5M+ in annual revenue

Estimated impact (of all initiatives): 3x increase in annual MBE revenue & 8K+ new jobs, boosting Black community’s net worth by ~$2B+

Access to Capital (CDFI/MDI)

Our ambition:

Modernize CDFI/MDI systems and tech as well as recruit and upskill talent to increase CDFI/MDI capacity and ability to inject more capital into Black communities

3. Fund modernization & capacity-building and provide in-kind subject matter experts – $30M: help 4-5 CDFIs/MDIs* over 5 years modernize their core systems, hire and train staff, expand marketing and standup SWAT team of experts to conduct needs diagnostic, implement tech solution & provide technical assistance

  • Systems and technology modernization – $10M-15M: Add/upgrade core banking systems, hardware and productivity tools, train frontline workforce on new systems & technology and hire engineering specialists to support customization and news systems rollout – over 5 years
  • Talent and workforce – $10M: hire and train additional frontline lending staff and invest in recruiting, training, compensation & benefits and retention to increase in-house expertise and loan capacity – over 5 years
  • Other capacity-building and outreach – $8M: hire additional staff to increase custom borrower and technical assistance (e.g., credit building, MBE financing options, etc.) and increase community outreach to drive regional awareness and new pipeline projects – over 5 years

* In partnership with National Bankers Association and Appalachian Community Capital; CDFIs/MDIs being considered include: First Bancshares, Commonwealth National Bank, TruFund, Sabre Finance, Bronze Valley, etc.

Estimated impact (of all initiatives): ~$330M in additional loans per year to support ~30K MBEs

Education/HBCU & Workforce Development

Our ambition:

Lower financial burden for Black students, increase number of Black college graduates, increase Black workforce and executive representation and their access to high-paying jobs

4. Fund scholarships and hire coaches – ~$35M: scale Birmingham Promise fund to financially support 200-250 students per year over 4 years to increase college retention and graduation rates

5. Fund endowment – $2M: support 50 University of Alabama at Birmingham college students per year with housing to reduce their financial burden and increase college retention and graduation rates

Estimated impact (of all initiatives): 6.5K+ additional college graduates & 35K workers with high-paying wages to drive ~$1.2B in economic growth

Digital Access

Our ambition:

Increase accessibility, affordability and adoption of high-speed Internet

6. Raise community awareness & adoption of Emergency Broadband Benefit: increase door-to-door and community outreach in low-income neighborhoods to get households onto EBB to help connect ~35K unconnected households

Estimated impact (of all initiatives): 48K households get connected to high-speed internet to unlock ~$700M in economic potential for Jefferson County

Birmingham, Alabama

Lead community organization: Prosper Birmingham

MBE Entrepreneurship & Supplier Diversity

Our ambition:

Increase the volume and value of Black-owned businesses – through corporate MBE spend and MBE startups & scaling

1. Fund startups and give access to investor network – $70M: grow the Prosper Health Tech Fund – powered by Gener8tor – and offer venture capital technical assistance to scale 50+ startups from <$1M to $5M+ in annual revenue; near-term priority is to secure $4M in venture investment by end of May 2022

2. Fund technical assistance – $25M: fund Prosper Birmingham, Magic City Match, and Birmingham Business Alliance to establish/expand business advisory programs, renovate and subsidize retail/office space for MBEs and scale coaches & support services (e.g., digital footprint, B2C platforms, accounting & bookkeeping, recruitment, etc.) to help 100+ MBEs scale from <$1M to $5M+ in annual revenue

Estimated impact (of all initiatives): 3x increase in annual MBE revenue & 8K+ new jobs, boosting Black community’s net worth by ~$2B+

Access to Capital (CDFI/MDI)

Our ambition:

Modernize CDFI/MDI systems and tech as well as recruit and upskill talent to increase CDFI/MDI capacity and ability to inject more capital into Black communities

3. Fund modernization & capacity-building and provide in-kind subject matter experts – $30M: help 4-5 CDFIs/MDIs* over 5 years modernize their core systems, hire and train staff, expand marketing and standup SWAT team of experts to conduct needs diagnostic, implement tech solution & provide technical assistance

Systems and technology modernization – $10M-15M: Add/upgrade core banking systems, hardware and productivity tools, train frontline workforce on new systems & technology and hire engineering specialists to support customization and news systems rollout – over 5 years

Talent and workforce – $10M: hire and train additional frontline lending staff and invest in recruiting, training, compensation & benefits and retention to increase in-house expertise and loan capacity – over 5 years

Other capacity-building and outreach – $8M: hire additional staff to increase custom borrower and technical assistance (e.g., credit building, MBE financing options, etc.) and increase community outreach to drive regional awareness and new pipeline projects – over 5 years

* In partnership with National Bankers Association and Appalachian Community Capital; CDFIs/MDIs being considered include: First Bancshares, Commonwealth National Bank, TruFund, Sabre Finance, Bronze Valley, etc.

Estimated impact (of all initiatives): ~$330M in additional loans per year to support ~30K MBEs

Education/HBCU & Workforce Development

Our ambition:

Lower financial burden for Black students, increase number of Black college graduates, increase Black workforce and executive representation and their access to high-paying jobs

4. Fund scholarships and hire coaches – ~$35M: scale Birmingham Promise fund to financially support 200-250 students per year over 4 years to increase college retention and graduation rates

5. Fund endowment – $2M: support 50 University of Alabama at Birmingham college students per year with housing to reduce their financial burden and increase college retention and graduation rates

Estimated impact (of all initiatives): 6.5K+ additional college graduates & 35K workers with high-paying wages to drive ~$1.2B in economic growth

Digital Access

Our ambition:

Increase accessibility, affordability and adoption of high-speed Internet

6. Raise community awareness & adoption of Emergency Broadband Benefit: increase door-to-door and community outreach in low-income neighborhoods to get households onto EBB to help connect ~35K unconnected households

Estimated impact (of all initiatives): 48K households get connected to high-speed internet to unlock ~$700M in economic potential for Jefferson County