For Immediate Release
September 12, 2022
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Media contact: Maureen Bender

(BPRW) Billionaire Philanthropist Robert F. Smith to Keynote HP’s HBCU Tech Conference

(Black PR Wire) PALO ALTO, Calif. – HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ) announced its second annual virtual technology conference for historically black colleges and universities with billionaire philanthropist Robert F. Smith as this year’s featured speaker. Presented by HP with support from partners, Microsoft and Intel, the four-day conference September 13-16 will open with a pre-recorded virtual fireside chat with Smith hosted by HuffPost Editor-in-Chief Danielle Belton on Tuesday, September 13, at 11 a.m. Eastern.

Smith, who is the founder, chairman, and CEO of private equity firm Vista Equity Partners, is a digital transformation expert who founded the nonprofit Student Freedom Initiative to address college student debt and other barriers to success for HBCU students. Smith’s participation in the conference has ignited a broader conversation with HP around how the two organizations can work together to accelerate digital transformation at HBCUs through enhanced infrastructure, cybersecurity, talent development and access to tech careers. HBCUs produce 25 percent of Black tech talent and 42 percent of Black engineers.

As part of HP’s ambition to become the world’s most sustainable and just technology company, it launched the HBCU Technology Conference in 2021 to accelerate digital transformation at HBCUs and prepare for their students' digital futures through:

  • Greater access to tech careers
  • Supporting innovation and tech entrepreneurs
  • Enhanced cybersecurity, tech infrastructure and faculty support
  • Working with and empowering HBCU leaders
  • Advancing access to quality healthcare

“We know that equal access and representation drive better outcomes which leads to innovation,” said Lesley Slaton Brown, Chief Diversity Officer, HP. “After two years of remote learning and increased cybersecurity threats to institutions, advancing the infrastructure that supports tech curriculum, prepares students for tech careers, and mitigates security threats which is critical to advancing equity.” 

HP has worked closely with HBCUs of different sizes across the nation to create a meaningful experience for HBCU students, IT staff and faculty/administration. HP also is partnering with HolonIQ, a global impact intelligence platform, to launch an HBCU Digital Transformation Study that will help HBCUs benchmark their digital transformation journeys and engage in conversations with other HBCUs.

Preparing HBCU students for the future

The conference has more than 1,000 registered HBCU students, faculty, IT staff and university leaders, representing more than 80 participating HBCUs.

Students will be able to access the Future of Work Academy, which includes:

  • Professional development and job opportunities, including conversations with industry insiders on how to prepare for tech careers.
  • A career accelerator where they can get help with their resume and LinkedIn profile prior to the conference and apply for internships and jobs.
  • A two-day interactive symposium with technical learning and career readiness topics
  • Four student “innovation incubator” competitions. Teams will solve real-world business problems in a bot-a-thon, marketing, or health IT competition or participate in an esports/gaming experience.

IT, Faculty, Staff and HBCU leaders will be able to take part in a four-day virtual conference that will include industry insights and workshops on topics such as safeguarding HBCUs against cybersecurity attacks, talent development, tech curriculum and diversifying the tech workforce.

“HBCU partnership with the tech industry will increase awareness and access, and offer opportunities to be at the table with advocates who can go to bat for the brilliant talent on HBCU campuses who will add value to tech corporations,” said Jackson State University President Thomas K. Hudson, J.D. “Equally important is to have in place modern tech infrastructure to protect against ransomware attacks that threaten students’ privacy and institutions’ ability to thrive.”

HP’s commitment to HBCUs

In addition to the tech conference, HP, a founding member of the HBCU Business Deans Roundtable, hosts an annual HBCU Business Challenge and invites students to craft a solution to an HP business challenge. The most recent HP Business Challenge, won by South Carolina State University’s team, called for the HBCU teams to build a model to change the bottom line for HP’s Reverb G2 Omnicept Edition virtual reality headset. The 6th Annual HP HBCU Business Challenge has officially launched, and registration is now open. Go to for more information.

HP helped solidify the first relationship of its kind between the New York Stock Exchange and an HBCU. HP also joined the Congressional Bipartisan HBCU Caucus’ HBCU Partnership Challenge to further strengthen its relationships and programming with HBCUs.

In 2020, HP launched an innovative 3D printing learning pilot program at North Carolina A&T State University and partnered with Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU) and presented the school with an endowment to establish the HP Cybersecurity Scholarship.

HP’s growing investments in HBCUs demonstrate its commitment to reflect the diverse markets and customers that the company serves. 

About HP Inc.

HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ) is a technology company that believes one thoughtful idea has the power to change the world. Its product and service portfolio of personal systems, printers, and 3D printing solutions helps bring these ideas to life. Visit