In a push to encourage diversity in the tech world, Google announced Thursday that it was opening a campus for students from Howard University —a historically black college and university (HBCU) — to immerse themselves in the world of coding and engineering at its Silicon Valley headquarters.
The outpost, called "Howard West,” invites rising junior and senior computer science majors to Mountain View, California, for a three-month program where they will work with black Google tech employees, take computer science classes and indulge in Google’s famous perks, such as free food.
Tuition will be paid in full by private donors and the university. The students will will receive a summer stipend, and their housing costs will be covered.
According to the company’s 2016 diversity index, black employees account for just 1 percent of Google’s technology employees and only 2 percent of its overall employees.
With more than one third of America’s black computer sciences graduates coming from HBCUs, Google has been partnering with Howard and other HBCUs through Google in Residence (GIR), a program that places Google engineers as faculty at HBCUs.
“’Howard West’ is now the centerpiece of Google’s effort to recruit more Black software engineers from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)—and to make them feel right at home here in Mountain View,” Bonita Stewart, vice president of partnerships for Google, said in the Thursday press release.
Stewart, an alumnus of Howard herself, said she hopes to continue her alma mater’s tradition of “providing unprecedented access to opportunity" with “Howard West.”
The new program launches this summer with a group of 25 computer science majors from Howard.
In addition to expanding the program to other HBCUs in the future, Howard University president Wayne Frederick hopes to retain students in the field who may not have the financial means to continue their studies.
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