Black Entrepreneurs Train HBCU STEM Students in Clean Energy Technologies


The HBCU Green Fund recently announced a partnership with the Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs (RICE) that increases their capacity to train, mentor and identify internships in energy and STEM industries for students at the Atlanta University Center (AUC). A Department of Energy grant to RICE provides resources for the AUC Energy Project, including a fellowship program exposing students from various majors to emerging opportunities in renewable energy and sustainability. 

“We are pleased that the Russell Innovation Center supports a comprehensive program to expose HBCU students to careers in the energy sector, provide them with marketable skills, and introduce students to successful entrepreneurs and leaders working in STEM,” said Illai Kenney, national program director, HBCU Green Fund.

“Projects like this help to create a pipeline of minority thought leaders in climate and energy and ensure that HBCU graduates stand out in a highly competitive labor market. For instance, the Biden-Harris administration just announced plans to build a $5 billion network of electric vehicle chargers on interstate highways nationwide as part of their infrastructure bill, AUC Energy Fellows will be prepared for those jobs.”

The AUC Energy Project offers training across the energy landscape, including wind, solar, energy efficiency and Electric Vehicle Charging Station entrepreneurial opportunities. After completing Energy Audit training, the fellows will contribute to an investment-grade audit on the campuses of Morehouse College, Spelman College, and Clark Atlanta University. Several AUC Energy Fellows will participate in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon, a collegiate competition where teams of students compete to design and build sustainable solar-powered house. 

“Students at the Atlanta University Center have a unique advantage being located directly across the street from the Russell Center, the largest non-profit center in the country providing a space and resources for Black entrepreneurs and small business owners to innovate, grow, and create jobs,” said Brittany Saadiq, director of development, RICE. “This program gives AUC students access to extraordinary talent and cutting-edge technology.” 

Thought leaders sharing career advice, mentoring, and business opportunities include HBCU graduates Dr. Anthony Kinslow, CEO of Gemini Energy Solutions; Sheryl E. Ponds Founder and CEO of Dai Technologies; and Gilbert Campbell, founder and CEO of Volt Energy Utility LL; along with AUC faculty mentors Dr. Armita Davarpa, Spelman College, Dr. Cynthia Hewitt, Morehouse College, Dr. Olu Olatidoye, Clark Atlanta University.

An HBCU Energy and STEM Internship registry is currently in development with several summer apprentice opportunities already identified. The 2022 AUC fellows are: Sophia Boyd (Spelman), Serena Echols   (Spelman), Indrianna Bowleg (Spelman), Brionna Findley   (Spelman), N’Dya Jeffries   (Clark Atlanta), Conrad Mctavish (Morehouse), Jason Gill   (Morehouse), Ihunanya Destiny Agomuoh, (Spelman), Noah Bacon-Angevine (Morehouse), and Andre Brown (Morehouse).

The HBCU Green Fund is a non-profit, nonpartisan organization working to advance campus-wide sustainability at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and promote student engagement in green initiatives. The organization produces the HBCU Green Report, a ranking of green initiatives on HBCU campuses. 

In April the organization co-host’s the annual BIPOC Climate Justice Dialogue, an opportunity for climate justice scholars, organizers, and funders to discuss national climate goals and Justice40 priorities with government agencies. For more information on the HBCU Green Fund and AUC Project visit

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