The National Institute of Inclusive Competitiveness seeks to empower HBCUs

NIIC’s innovative approach is to make sure HBCU leaders, alumni and prospective students understand what the 4IR, or Industry 4.0, really means in a nation reeling from the global health pandemic.

The Historical Context.

Approximately 100 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU)s existed before the coronavirus shutdown, with the oldest formed in Pennsylvania (Cheyney University), and the majority located across the southern United States. HBCUs emerged out of racially toxic policies designed to ensure Blacks could not attend schools with white students. Like their K12 feeder districts, most HBCUs have operated with significant funding shortfalls, but have sustaned their a legacy of producing a black middle class in the United States.

Vital support organizations include The Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), representing 47 publicly funded HBCUs, which raises scholarship funds, builds capacity and matches students to research and job opportunities with corporate partners. The United Negro College Fund (UNCF)’s “A mind is a terrible thing to waste” mission has raised more than $5B and supported hundreds of thousands of Black students attending its 39 private tuition HBCU members for the past 70 years. Another organization, the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Education (NAFEO) was founded four decades ago by a group of HBCU Presidents, and still raises the voice of all post secondary institutions supporting Black aspirations in college. With the help of these auxiliary organizations HBCUs have weathered decades of exclusionary, racially motivated local, state and federal policy, practices and programs designed to limit black wealth creation. TMCF, UNCF, NAFEO and other support organizations will continue to have an extraordinary role in sustaining the health of their member institutions in the 4th Industrial Revolution.

The NIIC positions itself as the contemporary model for strategic planning, implementation and GDP productivity for Black Lives moving toward 2119, 500 years after Africans were enslaved in service to a new nation as its permanent lowest caste.

The Legacy and Future of HBCUs post COVID-19.

NIIC’s innovative approach is to make sure HBCU leaders, alumni and prospective students understand what the 4IR, or Industry 4.0, really means in a nation reeling from the global health pandemic. That economy stalled under a mismanaged federal response to the health crisis, cascading the financial impact to already struggling institutions that had to close for nearly a year to protect the public health. How many HBCUs survive the loss in tuition, room and board and fees remains to be seen in 2021.

Ironically, at the same time the loss in income threatens their survival, HBCUs were amplified as federal agency priorities through the passage of the HBCU Propelling Agency Relationships Towards a New Era of Results for Students (PARTNERS) Act.

The NIIC’s three tier approach for HBCU economic growth:


Increase capacity for Historically Black Colleges and Universities to engage in strategic economic involvement by replicating Centers for Inclusive Competitiveness (CIC) through collaboration across schools of Business, Engineering and Education. Foster deeper “town and gown” collaborations, and provide technical assistance to shape institutional identity as agents of economic inclusion. The CICs will assist HBCU leaders in cultivating an interdisciplinary culture of sustainability related entrepreneurship and talent for this generation’s 4th industrial revolution (4IR).


The 4IR Accelerator will transform K-12 STEM teachers and cohorts of university students into entrepreneurial-minded 4IR Coaches through a series of modular courses delivered in a hybrid manner of online and on-campus engagement.

Interdisciplinary entrepreneurship is a key component of the 4IR Accelerator, recognizing that all students at every stage in the education pipeline, regardless of interest and aspiration, will require basic entrepreneurial skills to reach their potential in a post-pandemic globally competitive Innovation Economy.


Newly authorized federal policy has set the stage for HBCU alignment with state, regional and federal economic competitiveness strategies and goals. The NIIC will facilitate statewide strategic planning to serve as the principal guiding document aligning HBCU productivity with regional, state and federal competitiveness goals.

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