Google Howard West Program Bridges Silicon Valley and Black Colleges

Howard West will kick off with Howard University.

On Thursday, Google announced the launch of its new diversity initiative, Howard West.

Starting this summer, selected students from historically black colleges and universities, will participate in a three month residence program at Google’s Googleplex campus in Mountain View, CA—the heart of Silicon Valley.

The students will take computer science courses directly from senior Google engineers and college faculty. They will also be exposed to life and culture in Silicon Valley.

In addition, Google will offer training to computer science instructors at HBCUs by inviting them on-site as well. In this Faculty Externship Program, instructors will receive guidance on how to tailor their curriculum to best prepare their students for the exploding computer science and engineering job market. The goal is to modernize computer science education at HBCUs as well as diversifying the tech talent pipeline.

Howard West comes at a particularly critical time for HBCUs. Despite a meeting between President Trump and HBCU presidents at the White House, the president’s new budget provides no funding commitment to HBCUS which the schools desperately need.

The program will initially begin with students and professors from Howard University but will expand to other HBCUs.

“Beginning this summer we will be bringing 25-30 students from Howard to the Googleplex,” said Bonita Stewart, VP, global partnerships, Google.

Stewart said the students will receive 12 credits during their time in the program as well as stipends and housing.

“We have had a long partnership with HBCUs,” she said and explained that in addition to focusing on the students, “the natural next step is to focus on the faculty—to enrich their experiences and the techniques and tools they might need to elevate their students’ success.”

She says Howard West will also strive to “demystify” Silicon Valley for these students. “The best way to do that is to plop them down in Googleplex,” said Stewart.

“Our objective long term is to utilize the program to actually accelerate and increase the pipeline not only for Google but for the broader tech ecosystem,” she said.