(Black PR Wire) CARY, N.C., -- Today's hottest careers are in analytics, data science and STEM, areas where African-Americans continue to be underrepresented. Historically black colleges and universities are striving to change that, and analytics company SAS has pledged to help. From a commitment to pre-K expansion and early literacy, to free analytics software and training for educators and students, SAS is helping younger people of color seize exciting career opportunities.
In the spring, SAS accepted the HBCU Partnership Challenge, a commitment by companies to incorporate HBCUs into their diversity and inclusion efforts. The challenge was created by the Bipartisan HBCU Caucus, which was founded and is co-chaired by US Rep. Alma Adams, two-time HBCU alum and representative for the 12th District of North Carolina. SAS will join Rep. Adams and many prominent members of Congress at this week's HBCU Diversity in Tech Summit, hosted by Howard University.
"HBCUs contribute nearly $15 billion to our annual economy and have provided pathways of opportunity to millions of Americans, many of whom are first generation college students. Despite being historically underfunded and under-resourced, these institutions continue to produce top talent, including 40 percent of my colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus," said Congresswoman Adams. "That is why the Diversity in Tech Summit is so important. There is no workplace diversity, especially within the tech industry, without HBCUs. I am proud to host the second annual Diversity in Tech Summit, and work with companies like SAS to build a well-prepared workforce that is diverse and inclusive."
HBCUs comprise 3% of all colleges and universities yet produce 24% of undergraduate degrees nationwide awarded to African-American students. Nearly 300,000 students attend the more than 100 HBCUs in America. Those universities account for more than one-third of all black STEM degree earners and produce 42% of black engineers, including more than 47% of black women engineers.
To support these schools and students and fulfill its pledge, SAS supports HBCUs in several meaningful ways.
SAS partners with the American Statistical Association (ASA) Committee on Minorities in Statistics to increase diversity in the field of statistics. By participating in related events and programs, the company shares career opportunities in statistics with underrepresented communities, including HBCU students and students of color.
The company works with North Carolina Central University and North Carolina A&T to increase early-career and intern talent pipelines.
SAS attends a variety of local and national events to recruit HBCU students and students of color, including the annual HBCU Career Development Marketplace, where more than 400 HBCU students network with potential employers.
In 2018, the SAS Black Initiatives Group hosted its first SAS HBCU STEM Connect event. The event featured panel discussions, tech talks, networking and a keynote delivered by SAS executives – giving HBCU students an opportunity to learn more about SAS, analytics and potential STEM career paths.
Continuing investment in education and an inclusive workforce of today and tomorrow
The SAS commitment to diversity in education begins in pre-K. The company, led by CEO Jim Goodnight, rallied a group of prominent North Carolina business leaders to advocate for greater access to the state's high-quality pre-k program, NC Pre-K. NC Pre-K prioritizes low-income and/or at-risk 4-year-olds.
The business leaders see pre-K as crucial to boosting early childhood literacy. Children not reading proficiently by the end of third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school, undermining their ability to develop skills to compete in today's global economy.
Policymakers responded in 2017 by increasing funding to enroll an additional 3,500 children in NC Pre-K through 2019. This was then augmented by funding for 3,000 more children through 2021, a positive move toward the group's goal of 75 percent of eligible children enrolled in every North Carolina County.
Pursuing inclusion through diversity initiatives, partnerships, free software and training
From pre-K to adult learners, SAS education programs seek to create stronger foundations and brighter futures for students and adult learners. Education has been the company's primary philanthropic focus for more than 25 years and was a key pillar of a recently announced $1 billion AI investment.
In addition to HBCU support, SAS has created many initiatives and partnerships to increase representation in analytics fields for women, veterans and people with disabilities. For example:
Boasting more than 750 members and seven chapters around the world, the SAS Women's Initiatives Network is a community of SAS employees who empower, encourage and inspire women to pursue excellence in their careers and fulfillment in their personal lives. Members act as ambassadors for SAS and STEM careers, sharing time, expertise and passion to develop leadership capabilities among women workers, expand networks, showcase SAS thought leaders and attract young women to careers in science and technology.
SAS creates innovative accessible technologies for people with disabilities to help them work and succeed in high-tech careers. For example, people with visual impairments are often shut out from hot careers in STEM fields, including analytics and data science. No surprise, since most charts and graphs are created exclusively for visual consumption. The SAS Accessibility team, led by a visually impaired software developer, created SAS Graphics Accelerator, which provides unparalleled access to data visualization and data science for people with visual impairments by generating alternative presentations of data visualizations, including verbal descriptions, tabular data and interactive sonification.
The SAS Autism Spectrum Internship Program provides students who self-identify on the autism spectrum with a tailored interviewing process and onboarding experience to bridge the gap between academic and on-the-job learning. The purpose is to focus on the critical skills necessary to do the job – the strengths of these students – and remove barriers to obtaining meaningful employment using a traditional interview process geared toward neurotypical individuals. The program received the 2019 National Association of Colleges and Employers Diversity and Inclusion Excellence Award.
The company's internship program, VETS (Veteran Employment, Training and Support) provides valuable work experience for military personnel pursuing a degree in IT. SAS also participates in many other job fairs, mentoring programs and partnerships with military organizations to help veterans and their families’ transition to civilian life.
Learn more about the SAS commitment to diversity and inclusion in the company's Corporate Social Responsibility report.
People of all backgrounds and abilities can benefit from free and low-cost software and programs from SAS that build the current and future generations of analytics talent. SAS offers many flexible ways for students and adult learners to learn SAS analytics and data skills:
SAS Programming for High School provides five days of training, all instructional materials, assessments and teaching guides necessary for educators to teach SAS programming to high school students for free.
SAS® Viya® for Learners offers free access to AI and machine learning software for higher education educators and students.
SAS University Edition and SAS OnDemand for Academics provide educators, students, researchers and independent learners free access to SAS software.
Free e-learning and video tutorials are available for a variety of analytics topics.
SAS has collaborated with colleges and universities around the world to launch 75 degree and 212 joint certificate programs in analytics and related disciplines.
A SAS Learning Subscription offers e-learning, help from experts, digital badging and performance tracking to help people plot a path to successful certification.
HBCU educators and others are invited to attend two free webinars to learn about the many ways SAS Academic Programs supports teaching, learning and research.
SAS Educational Resources for Colleges and Universities will be held Aug. 7 at 1 p.m. (click to register). Workforce Credentials: How SAS Certification Gives Students an Advantage will be Sept. 25 at 1 p.m. (register)
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