(Columbia, SC) — South Carolina’s Institutes of Innovation and Information (SCIII) is an initiative and vision inspired by Sen. John L. Scott, Jr., focused on revolutionizing and cultivating the state’s seven four-year HBCUs’ overall capabilities and contributions for the citizens and residents of the state. South Carolina has a rich history when it comes to educating people of color, and the state’s seven HBCUs produce more than 50% of all Black college graduates in this state. SCIII provides the perfect conduit for partnerships between South Carolina’s HBCUs and state business and industry, diversifying and improving the state’s workforce.
Through the leadership and vision of State Senator John L. Scott, Jr., the South Carolina General Assembly appropriated $18 million in 2021 towards the development of educational institutes at each of South Carolina’s seven HBCUs. Each institute was established with specific focuses and disciplines united to increase opportunities and exposure for their student bodies on campus and the surrounding community. Sen. Scott says: “The Institutes of Innovation and Information is one of the most powerful tools that Historical Black Colleges and Universities will see for years to come. As each HBCU launches its own institute to look at issues affecting South Carolina you will begin to get more involvement with our colleges and universities. The students, faculty, and staff will notice that having corporate partners will bring about scholarships, opportunities for young people such as internships, as well as jobs after graduation and even some during their tenure at school. We think this a game-changer for South Carolina. For the 5,000 plus businesses and corporations we have here, we have not had the opportunity to invite them to be a part of the HBCU lifestyle. Through the creation of this institute and with the direction of our executive director, Dr. Gwynth Nelson, we think this is highly possible.”
The seven HBCUs include Allen University, Benedict College, Claflin University, Clinton College, Morris College, South Carolina State University and Voorhees University. Each school’s institute has a specific focus area, and all of them fit under the umbrella of initiatives and efforts centered around bringing innovation to the school’s students, the surrounding community and the state overall. Three of the institutes – at Claflin and Voorhees Universities, and at Morris College – have already officially launched. SCIII recognizes the intersectionality of industry, business and individual workers; the organization will strengthen HBCUs by building pipelines from each Institute directly to opportunities in state business and industry.
The SCIII Foundation was established to support and assist the efforts of the seven established institutions by providing funding, resources, and network partnerships with leaders in the business and philanthropic community. It is guided and managed by Executive Director Dr. Gwynth R. Nelson, who previously held the position of AVP of Institutional Advancement at Voorhees University. Dr. Nelson notes: “It is my belief that South Carolina Institutes of Innovation and Information (SCIII) will provide great opportunities for our students enrolled at the seven HBCUs. With the partnerships established with the SCIII Foundation, corporations and or HBCUs, the state’s businesses and industries will connect and create tremendous opportunities for students. This connection will not only flourish, but it will bridge a gap among students, community and industry leaders. SCIII will work tirelessly to ensure a collaborative relationship because my motto is ‘failure is not an option.'”
Dr. Rusty Monhollon, President & Executive Director, South Carolina Commission on Higher Education, believes SCIII will revolutionize the state’s HBCUs by giving them more visibility and establishing relationships with the state’s businesses and industries as they join forces with the Institutes. “Establishing partnerships between private and educational sectors for relevant training and career preparation will provide meaningful opportunities for our students, as well as the businesses and industries they work with,” Monhollon said. “These relationships will help demonstrate the quality of our academic programs to the private sector while also allowing students to contribute locally.”