Clark Atlanta University Selected as Site for New PROPEL Center A Global HBCU Headquarters for Innovation

Courtesy of Clark Atlanta University

Clark Atlanta University (CAU) is proud to announce the university has been selected as the home of the New PROPEL Center, a global headquarters for innovation.

The global HBCU technology and innovation hub committed to strengthening the Black talent pipeline, will be constructed at 635 Atlanta Student Movement Blvd., at Parsons Street between Vine and Elm Streets on the former site of The University Plaza Apartments – formerly known as “The Birdcage.”

The location is an approximately 5.2-acre site that holds special historic and cultural significance to

Clark Atlanta University and its alumni who once called the location their home away from home. The location is historic to the Black community as well, given its proximity to the original location of Friendship Baptist Church, Flipper Temple A.M.E. Church, and other local African American institutions.  The location offers to PROPEL a unique opportunity to build upon the legacy of the AUC through long-term leasing with Clark Atlanta University, providing options for future development on the property.

“Here at Clark Atlanta University, our leadership, faculty, and students are humbled to be a partner in the launch of the PROPEL Center and to have the opportunity to execute this long-term partnership,” stated President George T. French, Jr., Ph.D. “The progress of the PROPEL Center, and its journey to fruition, have been steady and rewarding to watch.  We are proud to see this important next step being so boldly taken.”

The PROPEL Center will support Clark Atlanta University, the Atlanta University Center and the entire HBCU community, which includes more than 100 colleges and universities, through a robust virtual platform accessible to all HBCU students and faculty.  Founding partners Apple and Southern Company, along with strategic partner The Walt Disney Company, have each made major investments toward the development and launch of the center.

PROPEL is designed to provide innovative curricula, work-based learning experiences, advanced technology support and unprecedented career and leadership opportunities.  The hub will further work to deliver an array of strategic resources, preparation, and industry access across the Black collegiate community to support their work in producing the next generation of scholars who will champion equity, justice, and entrepreneurship.

The PROPEL Center’s curriculum options will include agricultural technologies, augmented reality, social justice, health, arts & entertainment, hospitality, and energy, along with career preparation and entrepreneurship tracks. Construction is scheduled to commence in early 2023.

“In just a year, PROPEL has co-developed programming with HBCUs that will inspire new curriculum and learning experiences in health, arts & entertainment, and social justice,” stated PROPEL Interim CEO L. Waymond Jackson, Jr. “Once complete, the PROPEL Center will build upon those efforts by providing an innovative learning space for all HBCU students.  We are excited for the PROPEL Center to be built on a site that has such historical significance as the Birdcage.  This one-of-a-kind project creates a great opportunity for us to honor the past while also building a transformational experience that changes the future of HBCU students.”

“We are proud to support the PROPEL Center’s mission to empower the next generation of Black scholars, innovators, and entrepreneurs,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s Vice President of Environment, Policy, and Social initiatives.  “Propel’s new campus in the heart of Atlanta is well-positioned to create exciting opportunities for learning and collaboration within the HBCU community.”

“This is a thrilling and pivotal next step in the construction of the PROPEL Center’s physical campus in the heart of the Atlanta University Center,” said Thomas A. Fanning, chairman, president, and CEO of Southern Company.  “As a founding partner, we are honored for the opportunities to help forge change and make intentional investments that advance equity in education for the entire community of HBCU students.”

To witness the PROPEL Center’s vision being made a reality with this highly anticipated announcement is gratifying to the entire HBCU community,” said Aaron Walton, president, Cheyney University. “As a proud partner and the first HBCU, we at Cheyney know well what it’s like to be and celebrate a ‘first,’ and we’re humbled to be a part of this innovative accelerator which will enhance the training, preparedness, and futures of all HBCU students.”

“The PROPEL Center will impact my life tremendously as the SGA president at Kentucky State University. It’s essential for my fellow students and me to have unlimited mentoring opportunities – as well as hands-on learning experiences – from corporate leaders who will guide us in the right direction to succeed,” said Savion Briggs, a PROPEL student scholar.  “The PROPEL Center does all these things and much more while enabling my fellow students to build relationships with key corporate partners such as Apple and Southern Company, and other campus leaders at HBCUs.”