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Georgia State University (GSU) has received a $300,000 Digital Economy Initiative grant from the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, the largest community foundation in the world, in collaboration with Cisco Corporate Social Responsibility, to propel students, especially those underrepresented in the tech scene, to pursue a technology career.

“One of the biggest challenges facing technology organizations is finding talent to successfully navigate the next digital revolution, with new technologies such as the Internet of Things transforming the globe,” Phil Ventimiglia, GSU’s chief innovation officer, told Hypepotamus. “To be successful, students need to be able to effectively communicate, collaborate, and solve problems digitally.”

The three-year grant will fund a new Digital Learners to Leaders program, an initiative to encourage students to use IoT technology — from data sensors and machine learning to smart city software — to create solutions for challenges within their community.

“At Georgia State, we have been working to incorporate digital literacy skills and competencies throughout our core curriculum. This grant allows our students to augment in-class learning with exposure to professional problem-solving that will prepare them for the careers of today, and for future careers that do not even exist yet,” says Ventimiglia.

The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) will lead the program and will host and pair high school students with university students to look at pain points across Atlanta’s educational, business, government, and nonprofit community. Through workshops, online activities, an annual conference, and internships, students will identify more effective solutions for those issues.

“It is part of CETL’s mission to provide innovative learning opportunities for Georgia State’s students,” says Julian Allen, senior director of learning innovations at CETL. “This program encourages students from diverse backgrounds to engage with leading technology experts to create real technology solutions that will benefit the local community.”

The program aims to help develop the state’s future technology-focused workforce and bring diversity to a growing field in need of new perspectives for problem-solving, says Tiffany Green-Abdullah, manager of learning community development at CETL. Georgia State, which is located in downtown Atlanta, has a diverse student body and connections to local businesses and community partners, and thus makes an ideal hub for this program.

“As technology transforms the way we live and work, Cisco believes educational institutions and organizations focused on emerging entrepreneurs can be a powerful force for change for local economic development,” says Tae Yoo, senior vice president of Cisco Corporate Affairs and Corporate Social Responsibility, in a statement.

“Public universities such as Georgia State University not only have the capacity to meet industry demand for a digitally skilled workforce in the Atlanta area, but also play a leading role in shaping entirely new ideas and industries to fuel the local economy and create the jobs of the future.”

This story originally appeared on Copyright 2017

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