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Final Day of HBCU Conference Focuses on Federal Funding Opportunities

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Author: Timothy C. Ervin and Tina Joly

Release Date: Mar 07, 2012

An administrator at the U.S. Department of Energy encouraged ASU and other Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to take advantage of the many resources available at the federal agency.

An official with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) told attendees of ASU’s second annual HBCU Entrepreneurship Conference that there are significant  federal funding opportunities available through the DOE and encouraged faculty, staff and students to tap into these resources.

Bill Valdez, principal deputy and acting director of the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity at the DOE, said ASU and other HBCUs must make a better effort to compete for the millions of dollars available in federal funding.

Valdez, the keynote speaker for the third and final day of the conference, said the HBCU Conference is a step in the right direction.

“We need more of these conferences. I am very happy that ASU is doing this,” Valdez said. “We have a $27 billion dollar budget and we fund research at more than 500 Universities across the U.S. There are lots of opportunities to get engaged, and we do as much as we can to reach out; however, we need institutions like ASU to reach back to us and tell us that the University has faculty and students who want to be engaged with the DOE.”

Valdez shared his email address and encouraged students to contact him directly to learn more about the DOE’s numerous opportunities for visiting faculty, funding and internships.

George T. French, president of Miles College, said he is thrilled that he had a chance to learn about the opportunities available at the DOE and other federal agencies.

“It’s absolutely incumbent upon us to build partnerships with these federal agencies. They have money that isn’t being spent because they aren’t receiving grant applications from HBCUs,” French said. “Until we start competing for these grants we will remain underfunded as institutions.” 

Conference attendees also participated in a technical assistance workshop which included presentations on grant writing and the grant-review process, along with in-depth information on applying for different DOE scholarships and internships.

Danielle Edwards, a senior business major, knows firsthand about such opportunities. She completed an internship with the DOE last summer.

“I had an opportunity to work at DOE headquarters in Washington, D.C. It was a great experience and I learned a lot. The people I worked with were open to new ideas and encouraged me to share my ideas with them. I hope other ASU students take advantage of opportunities at DOE,” Edwards said.

Closing Luncheon Encourages Entrepreneurship

Day three of the HBCU Conference closed with the John H. Johnson Luncheon in the Dunn-Oliver Acadome. Matthew Erskine, assistant secretary of commerce for economic development at the U.S. Economic Development Administration, served as the keynote speaker. 

Erskine discussed President Barack Obama’s plan to spark the next generation of entrepreneurs.

“President Obama’s leadership is spurring the next generation of entrepreneurs by investing in innovation,” Erskine said. “And the President is focusing on strengthening our nation’s regions to create economic ecosystems that will help our entrepreneurs thrive.”

Erskine reminded attendees that entrepreneurship is at the very core of America’s legacy. Erskine said that supporting a culture that is conducive to entrepreneurship and start-ups is the core component of the President’s national strategy for achieving sustainable growth and quality jobs.

Erskine gave ASU high marks for hosting the HBCU Conference, adding that John H. Johnson, founder of Johnson Publishing (Ebony Magazine and Jet Magazine), would have been impressed with the world-class line up of speakers who participated in the event.

“I am impressed with the forward thinking vision of Alabama State and the other HBCUs from across the nation,” Erskine said. “I am impressed with how the second annual conference, with its critical focus on entrepreneurship, helped highlight the vital roles that HBCUs are playing to advance America’s continued competitiveness in the ever-expanding global marketplace.”

An Unqualified Success

The first two days of the conference included generous donations from participating agencies, corporations and alumni. And Wednesday’s closing session followed suit, with Information Transport Solutions Inc. presenting a check to ASU for $20,000.

John F. Knight, executive vice president and chief operating officer at ASU, said the University was delighted to host the conference. He thanked Deborah Scott Thomas, the conference coordinator, for having a wonderful vision.

“There are so many things that are taking place here in the state of Alabama, and with the people that you have brought to this campus, Alabama State University will continue to be in the forefront of being a visionary taking advantage of these opportunities and also making these opportunities available for our students,” Knight said.

Thomas said this year’s event was an unqualified success.

“We were able to bring in presenters, students, educators and University administrators from across the country to participate in this year’s conference,” said Thomas. “I am so grateful to those who gave of their time to share their expertise in their respective areas.  We’re already getting wonderful feedback, especially from students and faculty, about how valuable this event has been in terms of gaining knowledge about government grants, internships, scholarships and other partnerships. We are certainly already looking forward to 2013.”

More HBCU Conference Coverage

Day One
White House Executive Kicks Off ASU HBCU Conference
Photo Gallery

Day Two
HBCU Conference Speakers Encourage Focus on Entrepreneurism, Technology, Innovation
Photo Gallery

Day Three
Photo Gallery

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