Southern Co. and Apple Partner for New Digital Learning Hub
January 2021
Southern Company and Apple recently announced their partnership to launch the Propel Center, a digital learning hub, business incubator, and global innovation headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, for students of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). As the founding partners, Southern Company and Apple each contributed $25 million to the initiative. 

"We know inequities exist in our society, and it's up to each of us to be more intentional in our efforts to make a difference and bridge the gap," said Tom Fanning, chairman, president, and CEO of Southern Company. "We know more must be done, and the establishment of the Propel Center is another important demonstration of Southern Company fulfilling our commitment to move our communities to a more equitable future. Partnering with Apple in this initiative is an exciting way to connect future leaders with these critical resources." 

"We're proud to partner with Southern Company on this groundbreaking new project to build a global hub for innovation and learning for the entire HBCU community," said Lisa Jackson, Apple vice president of environment, policy, and social initiatives. 

The Propel partnership supports a physical campus in the historic Atlanta University Center for in-person learning, a robust virtual platform for online learning, and on-campus activations at partnering HBCU institutions. This innovative learning hub is designed to provide HBCUs with shared resources to support their work of preparing future leaders and will enable students from more than 100 HBCUs to connect with the brightest minds in the world. The students also will be able to connect with each other, as they become civic-minded leaders and future entrepreneurs. 

Southern Company will serve as the energy partner for the construction of the Propel Center, ensuring it is sustainable and environmentally friendly. The Atlanta University Center, where the physical campus will be based, is a consortium of Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine, Morris Brown, and Spelman College. 

The Propel Center will provide various educational tracks, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, social justice, app development, design and creative arts, career preparation, and entrepreneurship. 

"Tech jobs offer lucrative salaries and among the best opportunities for growth, yet the workforce in the nation's top firms still does not reflect the country's diverse population," said Dr. David A. Thomas, president of Morehouse College. "Black and Hispanic professionals continue to be underrepresented in STEM careers. Apple and Southern Company are committed to developing the talent found at HBCUs and are committing resources to help improve diversity in STEM." 

"The Propel Center will be a tremendous asset to Atlanta's thriving HBCU community and will advance the mission of these institutions in the United States, and around the world," said Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. "Thank you to Apple and Southern Company for investing in our youth and our communities. We are honored to join you in this monumental effort." 

The Propel Center continues the work that was established by Southern Company subsidiary Alabama Power and Apple in February 2020 with the launch of Ed Farm, an education initiative that aims to equip educators and communities in Alabama with innovative tools and strategies that support active learning for all students.​

Anthony Oni, a Southern Company Gas executive who serves as the founder and chairman of Ed Farm, designed the Propel initiative to advance collaboration and innovation at HBCUs. He will continue to work on the project, actively engaging with academic and institutional partners. 

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