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How Donors Inspired 50 HBCU Students in Atlanta

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How Donors Inspired 50 HBCU Students in Atlanta

“We wanted to support our host city and inspire its changemakers. HBCUs play a huge role in Atlanta, and both the Arthur M. Family Blank Foundation and the Liz Blake Giving Fund are committed to innovation, entrepreneurship and workforce development in Atlanta. Both are leaders in the civic community and care deeply about the region.

Michael Ryan, Director of Philanthropy, TED

One of TED’s partners, he Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation and the Liz Blake Giving Fund, made it possible for 50 students and faculty from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs) to participate in the Scholars Program at TEDWomen 2023 in Atlanta, GA. Representing Spelman College, Morehouse Medical School, Clark Atlanta University, Morris Brown and Georgia State University’s WomenLead program, the students were hand-picked by leading faculty members on campus from student government, honors and leadership programs.

TED Scholars Program: A Curated Experience for Next-Generation Leaders

The Scholars Program at TEDWomen 2023 was designed to upskill emerging leaders and provide inclusive professional development and networking opportunities for the next generation of changemakers. It included a TEDx workshop and training for the faculty prior to the conference, which prepared them to apply for TEDx licenses and ultimately host conferences on each of their respective campuses, ensuring that the exchange of ideas on HBCU campuses would continue beyond the conference.

The students had access to the full conference experience PLUS an additional track of programming that was carefully curated to facilitate connections between the students. This special track also served as a launchpad for the students to appreciate the full conference experience. The program included:

  • Discovery session titled “Unlock Your Story: A public speaking and storytelling workshop” with Briar Goldberg, TED Speaker Coach. This unique opportunity is rare and only otherwise available to selected conference speakers.
  • Women in STEM career pathways discussion led by TED Fellow and Astrophysicist Erika Hamden
  • Extraordinary networking opportunities with TEDWomen attendees.
  • Private tour of the WITNESS exhibit and  discussion with WITNESS exhibit co-curator Genel Ambrose. Co-curated by Ms. Tina Knowles, WITNESS is an immersive visual art experience that features work by Black women and non-binary artists who project their vision of the world, society, community, and themselves through art.
“Unlock Your Story: A public speaking and storytelling workshop”
Women in STEM career pathways discussion led by TED Fellow Erika Hamden

Access to Different Voices Sparks New Ideas

The inaugural year of the TED Scholars Program was incredibly well received, with student attendees expressing their gratitude, inspiration and a renewed feeling of power to bring about change. Based on initial survey feedback, the students responded that they loved the networking and career pathways workshop, and the presence of so many different voices.

The students were inspired and challenged to think differently about themselves, their passions and what they wanted to accomplish, both in their studies and in the world. The ripple effect of our donors’ generosity is just beginning to unfold:

“My experience with TEDWomen has empowered me to be more intentional about my desires and passions, to allow myself grace when challenges arise, and to confidently lean into moments to connect with others. This experience has encouraged me to better accept help from others and opportunities for collaboration. My confidence in the power I hold as a young Black woman has expanded and I appreciate the TED team for creating this space to uplift voices like mine.”

– Jayla Dyas, Spelman Leadership Fellow

“Since attending the conference, one thing was made clear: everyone has a gift, and it is up to us to lean into it, not resist it. When people watch you love on that gift, they too will receive enjoyment and impact. TEDWomen challenged me to be brave and faithful in my gift, and I have, through producing and hosting my own talk series to complement one of the productions in my theater fellowship. I have a newfound sense of purpose and fulfillment through this experience, unlike anything I’ve ever felt before.”

– Assata Amankeechi, Spelman Leadership Fellow

Inspiring TED Donors

The TED Scholars Program at TEDWomen wouldn’t have been possible without our Atlanta-based donors. 

The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation funded scholarships for students and faculty members from the Honors Program at Clark Atlanta University. The Foundation also funded 10 Morris Brown scholarships, including students representing the Student Government Association (SGA), faculty, and the school’s president. 

The Liz Blake Giving Fund sponsored a student cohort from Morehouse Medical School,  and a student cohort from Spelman College who are part of the Bonner Scholars Program.

A Scholars Program at every TED Conference

The Scholars Program success at TEDWomen is just the start. 

We’re exploring how we can create the same type of experiences in other cities where our TED Conferences take place. We know there are TED attendees and donors who are committed to ensuring that the TED experience is accessible to all members of their communities.

It’s through these types of programs and scholarships that we can bring more voices and perspectives to the conversations that create real impact — whether it’s for social equity, climate change, social determinants of health or myriad other causes that call for our collective humanity.

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