Juniors at Republic High School will see a new class on their schedule this fall: Technology.
Blacks in Technology — a local nonprofit that seeks to expand tech opportunities to minorities — is partnering with Dell Technologies, Local Tek and Tennessee State University to provide technology curriculum and college credit to the more than 150 juniors at Republic High School, a charter school located in north Nashville.
According to Blacks in Technology President Holly Rachel, 91-percent of the students at Republic High School are non-white and nearly 50-percent are financially disadvantaged.
The 3-year-pilot program — named LocalTek Thrive — will provide every junior at Republic High School the opportunity to earn 6 hours of college technology course credits from TSU — 3 credit hours for App Development and 3 credit hours for Coding Languages.
“Tennessee State University Dual Enrollment Online is excited to partner with Republic Charter School and Blacks in Technology – Nashville!” says Dr. Johnnie Smith, Assistant Vice President of DEO and Academic Support at Tennessee State University. “This partnership will allow high school students to build technology skills that can lead them to STEM pathway degree options while preparing them for the college experience.”
LocalTek and TSU collaborated on the curriculum which Rachel says is designed to be a survey of technology and include modules on coding languages, healthcare analytics, data science, app development and machine learning. The courses will be a hybrid of in-person and virtual instruction.
“Most of the technology curricula on the market are focused on coding languages, but we want students to understand that there are an ocean of opportunities in the industry,” Rachel says.
Right now the course is only available to juniors at Republic High School but BIT is eager to explore the possibility of expanding the program to other north Nashville neighborhood schools, more specifically Maplewood, Whites’ Creek and Pearl Cohn high schools.
“We believe very strongly that “Innovation means going first,” says BIT co-founder Lena Winfree. “We appreciate partners such as RePublic High School, Tennessee State University, and our Presenting Partner – Dell Technologies – for being willing to take this first step with us toward changing the way we think about technology education and pipeline building. Innovative organizations like these are crucial when it comes to truly moving the needle.”