PREPARING STUDENTS FOR FUTURE: From left, Tim Berry, global head of Corporate and chairman of JP Morgan Chase in the Mid-Atlantic region; Florida Memorial University President Dr. Jaffus Hardick; Samuel Drako, FMU provost and vice president of Academic Affairs; Tech Equity Miami co-founder Leigh-Ann Buchanan; and Miami-Dade County Commission Chair Oliver Gilbert. PHOTO COURTESY OF DAVID L. SNELLING

Miami Gardens, Fla. – JP Morgan Chase, one of the largest banks in the nation, announced a $1 million investment in the future of students at Florida Memorial University seeking careers in STEM and other computer science jobs.

During a Feb. 8 ceremony at the Miami Gardens campus, the New York-based financial institution said the $1 million commitment to South Florida’s only HBCU will help under resourced students explore career opportunities in the technology field including cybersecurity.

The investment will help the university expand Computer Science and STEM programs, modernize classrooms, implement state-of-the art computers, enhance faculty recruitment and training, and pair students with industry professionals to provide hands-on technology experience.

The $1 million commitment was one of the largest in FMU’s history, and faculty, staff and students lauded the news.

"Today is a beautiful, beautiful day and today’s a good day," said Samuel Drako, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs at FMU.

Tim Berry, global head of Corporate and chairman of JP Morgan Chase in the Mid-Atlantic region, said his group convened with FMU President Dr. Jaffus Hardick, faculty and students to discuss upgrading infrastructure to better prepare students for the global job market once they earn their degrees.

Berry said he saw a need to enhance the school’s STEM and other computer science programs and decided to invest in the students’ future.

"We discussed how important it is to prepare the next generation towards the fast-growing industries, especially STEM careers, sparking innovative careers that strengthen the global economy," he said.

"The global world has technology to keep people connected and create breakthroughs in fields like health care and manufacturing. We must prioritize helping young people access opportunities to gain skills and experience."

Berry said he learned that FMU plays a critical role in supporting the future of its students and JP Morgan Chase and their partners want to lend a hand to help students to be global ready.

"About 60 percent of STEM students go on to STEM careers," Berry said. "With this new investment, we hope the number keeps rising. Because of the energy in this room and the investment we are making, I see the promise in every student."

Berry said almost a quarter of jobs will change in the next five years and failing to adequately prepare college students for the future workforce will cost the American economy about $1.75 trillion.

He said JP Morgan Chase is doing its part to give students nationwide opportunities to join the global workforce.

"JP Morgan Chase has helped 394,000 individuals with jobs, internships and apprenticeships but we know we can’t stop there," he said. "I can say from firsthand experience, these individuals have had a huge impact on our company."

Hardick, who’s credited with increasing student enrollment (2,020) at FMU since his tenure, thanked JP Morgan Chase for the investment and said it increases students’ chances of competing in the global workforce once they finish college.

"Thanks to JP Morgan Chase for believing in us and continuing to help us to connect with the ecosystem in our community and preparing our students for a global tomorrow," he said. "I am so proud of what is happening to our university."

Hardick said the investment ignites the ambition in students whose future seemed uncertain.

"Many students, when they came to the university, weren’t sure what they wanted to do, they didn’t have confidence," Hardick said. "But with the support of our faculty and staff, now they say I can conquer the world. This is a place where kids’ dreams can become a reality for students who otherwise may not get this opportunity."

"We know technology, it’s not going anywhere," Hardick added. "The whole world is continuing to change and at FMU, we want to make sure that our students, when they graduate, will be highly competitive in a global market and meet the workforce needs."

Miami-Dade County Commission Chairman Oliver Gilbert, whose district includes FMU, said investing in HBCUs will help students thrive in their careers.

"This will help young people at FMU as their fortunes change," said Gilbert, who graduated from an HBCU and became an attorney. "We appreciate this investment in the lives of these students."

Leigh-Ann Buchanan, co-founder of Tech Equity Miami and also an HBCU graduate, said students are often overlooked and underestimated despite earning degrees from predominantly Black colleges.

"We need to invest more in our HBCUs, particularly in the area of technology, and invest in scholarships," she said. "We need to invest in infrastructure, and we need to bring together amazing partners to make it happen."

She said her company was designed to bring people together to help ensure students get the opportunities to gain a foothold in the technology industry.

Buchanan said computer science students represent eight percent of the student population at FMU and is encouraging more students to get involved in technology careers.

"When we first talked about this opportunity, I said let’s get it to 20, let’s get it to more," she said. "And how we get there is because of significant investments, and the $1 million from JP Morgan Chase started with, is the ground floor. These amazing young people with careers in software development, have a clear pathway and support needed to maximize their potential."

FMU senior Rigaud Luly, a computer science major, said the infrastructure upgrade will bring new opportunities for students like himself.

He said he felt he got a head start in launching his career by meeting officials from JP Morgan Chase and Tech Equity Miami and demonstrating his computer science skills.

"For this school, it’s a great opportunity for students to grow and an opportunity to do more," said Luly, who lives in Broward County. "Today, it felt like I was applying for a job talking to the people from JP Morgan Chase and technology companies."