Historically, Black College & University’s (HBCU’s) look for skilled, ambitious and talented students to volunteer weekly to change the lives of local residents by assisting community-based organizations (CBO’s). CBO’s are used to identify, prioritize local needs and solve problems in specific areas. Because nonprofit and CBO’s are often viewed as neighborhood assets, the nonprofit organizations serve the twin functions of delivering services and providing a voice for community concerns. They can be key players in building the capacity of the local area.
Atlanta University Center (AUC), Inc., the oldest and largest HBCU consortium, is working to bring vital knowledge and employment skills to its constituent communities through a new project, the HBCU Technology Project. This project has been designed to bridge the digital divide, and that cannot be accomplished without putting into place policies and procedures in the technological arena. The Technology Project is providing information technology, computer operations systems training, Internet/Web technical assistance and service-learning for tutoring and mentoring of members of CBO’s in neighborhoods adjacent to AUC’s six-campus university grounds. Schools in the consortium include Clark Atlanta University, Spelman College, Morris Brown College, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine and the Interdenominational Theological Center. Besides the AUC institutions, six other out of state schools participate in the program: Alabama A&M University, Benedict College, Bishop State Community College, Florida A&M University, Jackson State University and Oakwood College.
AUC began the project through a partnership with the Center’s University Community Development Corporation, a nonprofit that coordinates community development projects with AUC schools, and Seedco, a national nonprofit intermediary founded in 1986. Assisted by AmeriCorps VISTA members, the Seedco-HBCU partnership provides skilled students who volunteer a few hours each week to help make a positive change in the lives of local residents in low-income communities.
There are community organizations participating in the Technology Project also. They are the Technical Outreach Community Help (TORCH) Computer Center, which is supported by the National Society of Black Engineers Alumni Extension Chapter in Atlanta; the Lester J. Rodney Mentoring Center, a technology and general academic program for elementary school students; the Reynoldstown Revitalization Corporation, which gives 6 to 14 year-olds homework help on the computer and additional computer skills; Renaissance Economic Development Corporation, an after school program that prepares high school students for the SAT, ACT and GRE test; and the Metro Atlanta Resource Center, which offers tutorial sessions on computer skills and test-taking for higher learning opportunities and job advancement.
Last summer, AUC also partnered with Helping Teens Succeed, an AmeriCorps program that provides college-bound teenagers and their parents the skills to access online information on scholarships and other resources to finish college.