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How Salesforce and HBCUs are Partnering with Purpose

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Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are more than just higher education institutions. They are sources of accessibility, equity, opportunity, and innovation. Moreover, they say people make a place, and that is certainly true of all the people working in, or partnered with, HBCUs! 

At Salesforce we believe that equality begins with education, and as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has previously stated, supporting HBCUs is a “patriotic duty”. For these reasons and more, Salesforce is coming together with HBCUs to listen, learn, build trust, and define the roadmap to success. 

Current state of HBCUs

HBCUs account for only 3% of all higher education institutions, yet they enroll 10% of all Black undergraduates and have the highest success rates in educating and graduating Black students.

Today, these institutions are educating a diverse population of students with many being first generation and Pell grant eligible. There are currently 101 HBCUs in the U.S. generating $14.8 billion in economic impact annually, creating many opportunities for first generation students.

Earlier this year, Salesforce participated in the Ideation, Innovation & Collaboration: The Future of HBCUs conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. We heard from a range of HBCUs that in order to increase sustainability, HBCUs:

  • Need more funding
  • Must focus on student safety, security, and wellbeing
  • Must develop more community and corporate partnerships
  • Need a consistently robust enrollment pipeline and retention plan
  • Want to be intentional about teaching business skills and provide opportunities for entrepreneurship to increase the social mobility of students

Three people smiling and posing for the camera

Building trust

Trust is a core value at Salesforce, and just as students are putting their trust in HBCUs, education institutions globally are trusting us as partners and giving us the privilege to help turn obstacles into opportunities. Earlier this month, we hosted our first HBCU Innovation Forum in San Francisco!

Joining us were leaders from Bennett College, Florida A&M University, Howard University, Virginia State University, Lincoln University, Morgan State University, University of Southern Indiana, Harvard University, George Mason University, and friends from TechForward, HBCU Week, and Harlem Hops/Harlem Hopes

The group shared what was top of mind, and we ideated on enrollment, student mental health, safety, wellbeing, and the ways in which Salesforce could help.

Attendees posing for a picture at the HBCU Innovation Forum

Defining the roadmap to success

Salesforce works with institutions to help deliver accessible, equitable, and connected lifelong experiences to students. HBCUs continue to chart a new path forward to greater equity and access through education — sounds like a match made in heaven!

From the moment a student expresses interest in a HBCU, right through to when they graduate and become alumni, it is critical for Salesforce to work collaboratively with HBCUs to drive learner and institution success at scale.

For us, this work includes partnering with HBCUs on their digital transformation strategies, while also providing internship and career opportunities for students, pro bono resources, and focused HBCU initiatives from our partners and support for Black-owned practices looking to grow as part of the Salesforce ecosystem. Suzanne Walsh, President at Bennett College, said, “More CEOs need to come and talk to our students, and we want more partnerships with corporations to open doors for them.”

When we think about what a partnership with Salesforce in five years could look like for a HBCU student, we envision meeting students where they are at, in the moments that matter the most. This means automating everyday admin tasks so faculty and student care teams can focus on what matters most — the student. Furthermore, we see ongoing career and internship opportunities in the Salesforce ecosystem.

Many of us here at Salesforce have come directly from HBCUs or have been in service of education for decades, and we’re on a mission to open up a new world where successful students who become engaged and enlightened citizens are the expectation and not the exception.

Salesforce will continue to drive the HBCU360 company-wide strategic approach to supporting HBCUs, looking for opportunities for positive change every step of the way.

Team Earth has landed

We believe that business is the greatest platform for change, and success should be for everyone on Earth and the planet itself. Because the new frontier? It’s right here.

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