$300,000 Check Presented to ASU by Propel Center

News Date
Check presentation from The Propel Center

By ASU News Services

Alabama State University received praise for innovation and a “big check” during a news conference held on January 21, 2022.

The check represented the award of a $300,000 grant to help address food insecurity at the University and to support initiatives related to ASU’s research garden.

ASU was one of only 15 HBCUs in the nation to receive a portion of the $3 million in grants that were awarded by the Atlanta-based Propel Center, which is funded by Apple and the Southern Company.

“Out of over 40 submissions for arts/entertainment and agri-tech grants, the Alabama State University [application] stood out as one of the leading proposals to address agri-tech and food insecurity,” said Propel Center president, Dr. Charles Gibbs. “With 39% of our two-year and four-year students experiencing some form of food insecurity, we thought that [ASU’s proposal] was directly in line with the mission of Propel in addressing agri-tech needs and supporting HBCUs.”

Alabama State University’s Dr. Michelle Samuel-Foo, director of Specialty Crop Research and an assistant professor of biology, has led the team of University researchers and students who manage the University’s on-campus Teaching Garden.

“Even though we are not a land grant college and do not have a college of agriculture, we have been able to make tremendous strides in our efforts to introduce agriculture programs to our students,” said Foo. “With this grant, we hope to alleviate food insecurity on our campus and…to generally reduce hunger. 

“We have several initiatives…that will utilize these funds from Propel via Apple and via the Southern Company to increase our students’ access to quality education and research opportunities, while at the same time giving them access to locally grown and locally resourced vegetables and crops that can be introduced into their diets for overall health and wellness.”

President Quinton T. Ross, Jr., said the grant is a great example of the importance of partnerships with the University.

“I am extremely proud of our faculty’s efforts to build upon our continued mission of promoting CommUniversity,” said Ross. “Partners such as The Propel Center, Apple and The Southern Company help to provide much-needed support for the University as a whole and our students in particular. The Propel Center’s mission of global innovation and impact is in direct alignment with the University’s mission, and this collaboration will be of great benefit to our campus and to our community.”

The University also received a $100,000 grant from Apple for technical support and equipment. Samuel-Foo said the Apple award will afford ASU the opportunity to provide a technology-based approach to stimulate students’ interest in agriculture while combating local food insecurity.