(Jackson, Miss) — Jackson State University is partnering with PENN Entertainment, which is dedicating more than $4 million over five years to fund STEM scholarships with HBCUs like JSU and create internship opportunities for students.
“The generosity of PENN Entertainment will aid in our mission of offering students a world-class, affordable education. This scholarship will help remove financial barriers and clear a pathway for our students to attain the STEM career they desire,” said Thomas K. Hudson, J.D., president of Jackson State University. “We are truly grateful for this partnership.”
In addition to JSU, PENN is collaborating with two new participating universities: Prairie View A&M University in Texas and Southern University and A&M College in Louisiana. The program now features six HBCUs in total. Initial participating HBCUs include Norfolk State University in Virginia, Bowie State University in Maryland and Wilberforce University in Ohio.
“As a company at the forefront of technology, we launched this program as a way to increase access to STEM opportunities for HBCU students and create real-world, hands-on learning experiences,” said Justin Carter, senior vice president of Regional Operations for PENN Entertainment and chairman of the company’s diversity committee.
“The addition of these three esteemed universities deepens our widespread support for HBCUs and expands our efforts to champion diversity, equity and inclusion in the communities where we operate. STEM careers make up a growing share of jobs in today’s economy, and we are committed to narrowing the representation gap in STEM fields and empowering students in this program for years to come,” he said.
An emerging leader in STEM disciplines, JSU’s chemistry program produces the third highest in bachelor’s degrees, second highest in master’s degrees and the third highest in doctoral degrees in physical sciences awarded to African-Americans in the country.
Additionally, the university’s College of Science, Engineering and Technology recently partnered with the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) for an inaugural Pre-Medicine Day. The event allowed undergraduate and graduate students to explore the various programs and curriculums at UMMC. A significant component of the initiative centered on the importance of active physician retention within Mississippi as well as diversifying physicians available to underserved communities.
PENN shares that its commitment to funding STEM scholarships and internship opportunities is an extension of the company’s established partnerships with 35 HBCUs across the country. The ongoing collaboration with HBCUs facilitates career opportunities at PENN properties while increasing participation in its Leadership Excellence at PENN Entertainment (“LEAP”) Program, which provides hands-on training, mentoring, and real-world experience to new or recent college graduates who are interested in building a long-term career in the gaming industry.