St. Petersburg College has received a $100,000 grant from Verizon to specifically help African American males succeed in its programs.
The college announced Tuesday Verizon donated the funds for a two-year grant to help “jumpstart” SPC’s African American Male Initiative, which seeks to close the achievement gap in that demographic.
Jesse Turtle, vice president for SPC’s Institutional Advancement, said discussions about the initiative began when Verizon, a longtime partner of the college, reached out wanting to do more.
“Verizon remains steadfast in our commitment to bridging the digital divide in underserved communities,” Michelle Robinson, vice president of Government Affairs at Verizon, said in a statement. “Our mission is to broaden opportunities that prepare individuals for meaningful careers now and for generations to come.”
The initiative will focus on all African American males, with a specific focus on those who have been deemed “academically needy” — those with less than a 2.4 GPA or low-income based on Pell Grant eligibility. The initiative will offer many options for students, including tutoring, mentoring and digital literacy and technology workforce development.
While the selection of students has already begun, with tutoring to follow shortly thereafter, Turtle said details for some of the other factors in the initiative are still being decided.
Roughly 4 percent of SPC’s student population is African American males, or around 1,600 per semester. Over the course of the two-year grant, SPC hopes to engage with around 400 through the initiative. Roughly 200 staff and faculty will also participate in related professional development.
Turtle said he and other SPC officials are hopeful the initiative will create a domino effect with students, ultimately contributing to the overall economy.
“It’s hard to quantify obviously, but the more successful they are, the more likely they are to graduate and more likely they are to get jobs,” he said. “[We thought] what do we need to put into place to help them? And when they receive help, they’re more likely to graduate. That is the goal, to make them more academically successful and then more successful in the workforce.”
SPC is the Tampa Bay area’s second-largest college based on fall 2019 enrollment, according to Tampa Bay Business Journal research.
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