Press Releases

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Rep. Alma S. Adams, Ph.D. and the 94 Members of the Congressional Bipartisan Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU) Caucus announced the start of the National HBCU Braintrust (Braintrust).  The Braintrust, which is hosted during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference (ALC CBCF), welcomes its inaugural student cohort and features the first-ever HBCU Innovation House.  Wells Fargo, and American Airlines will power this three-day conference dedicated to celebrating the power and potential of Black innovation through substantive dialogues, powerful networking and scholarship presentations. The entire agenda is listed below.

“As the Chair and Founder of the Congressional Bipartisan HBCU Caucus, I am proud to serve as the honorary chair of the National HBCU Braintrust and to welcome their inaugural student cohort to participate this year's conference,” said Congresswoman Alma S. Adams. “This year’s Braintrust celebrates the power and potential of Black innovation by highlighting the role that HBCUs can play in addressing the diversity crisis in venture capital (VC). Despite the fact that there are more than 5,300 collegiate institutions across the US, nearly 40% of VC is awarded to graduates of two institutions. Neither is an HBCU.  Talent exists everywhere, but opportunity does not. HBCUs produce 42% of Black engineers, 47% of Black women engineers, and it is estimated that nearly 50% of all Black professionals attended an HBCU. The Braintrust is three days of dialogues, networking and scholarship giving geared towards helping HBCUs and their students learn more about VC.  It is time for Congress, industry, and schools to come together to address the fact that only 0.0006% of VC goes to Black women and 0.1% to Black men.”  

“For generations, HBCUs have stood as a core pillar of America’s education infrastructure, lifting up countless young Americans and empowering the next generation of leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  “As founder and co-Chair of the bipartisan Congressional HBCU Caucus, Congresswoman Alma Adams has been an unwavering champion for students of color and HBCUs, helping secure robust, equitable funding and ensuring that Congress makes smart investments that expand opportunity and support diversity.  Through the powerful National HBCU Braintrust initiative, Congresswoman Adams and the entire HBCU Caucus are working to harness the transformative talent, imagination and leadership of HBCU students, and give them the tools they need to pursue their dreams, strengthen our communities and succeed in the 21st Century economy.”

“HBCU students represent a generation of leaders who will drive the innovation, creativity, and results businesses of tomorrow need to thrive,” said Marissa Horne, Managing Director of Talent Acquisition at American Airlines. “At American, we know that harnessing and supporting diversity in aviation, will provide us an extraordinary pipeline of future aviators from pilots to engineers.”

At we value HBCUs and all of our nation’s esteemed Minority Serving Institutions. Our organization has an audacious mission of reaching 50/50 equity in the tech sector by 2025, and will never get there if black and brown students and professional technologists are left behind,” said President and CEO Brenda Darden Wilkerson. “That’s why we are proud to support the HBCU Braintrust for the second year running. This year, we once again support AMIE in an effort that drives tuition dollars directly to the hands of students pursuing engineering majors at HBCUs. We are thrilled that this year the Braintrust is amplifying entrepreneurship, because supporting women tech founders is an priority. We more than doubled our contribution from last year, to also support HBCUvc, fueling innovation training at both HSIs and HBCUs. At, we will continue to invest in gender equity in tech, and are proud to be a part of the 2019 Braintrust.”

“Wells Fargo is honored to continue its steadfast support of Historically Black Colleges and Universities through its marquee sponsorship of the 3rd Annual National HBCU Braintrust.  We applaud the Bipartisan HBCU Caucus and Rep. Alma Adams for creating a forum where HBCU leaders, students, industry and policymakers can work together to advance the important work of HBCUs,” said Georgette Dixon, Senior Vice President and Director of Strategic Partnerships for Wells Fargo. “Wells Fargo is committed to these important institutions that are critical in creating the next generation of innovative business leaders.”

“If America is to meet its heavy and growing need for STEM graduates and get the most from the knowledge economy, it will only do so with the full participation and continued leadership of its historically black colleges and universities, many of which already contribute disproportionately to these national priorities,” said North Carolina A&T State University Chancellor Harold L. Martin Sr. “We at North Carolina A&T are proud to play a preeminent role in STEM education and innovation. We are energized to join with members of the Congressional Bipartisan HBCU Caucus and our HBCU colleagues this week at the National HBCU Braintrust to strategize on how, together, we can do even more.”

“Xavier’s Division of Business prepares our students for success and a lifetime of meaningful service to their surrounding community,” said President Reynold Verret, “We believe that the entrepreneurial spirit is the key driver of sustainable business growth and that the true ethos of entrepreneurship is in full alignment with the Xavier mission, in empowering all people to contribute to our society in positive, humane, and lasting ways. Xavier, like many other HBCUs are producing top talent despite being underfunded, so it’s vital that the private sector and federal government  make greater investments in our students.”  

“As a former venture capitalist, I know that diversity in business can lead to more innovative ideas and better work products. Unfortunately, there is a broad diversity problem within venture capitalism, and it extends from a deficit of black investors to low African-American participation in venture capital. In fact, less than one percent of all venture capital in this country goes to African-Americans. That’s a crisis of opportunity that continues to be fueled by implicit and explicit biases, as well as centuries of institutionalized racism,” said U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner (D-VA). “I applaud the National HBCU Braintrust for highlighting the vast potential of black invention and helping forge the path for HBCU students to take advantage of venture capital.”

“I congratulate my colleague, Rep. Alma S. Adams, for once again being selected as the honorary host of the National HBCU Braintrust.  I’m proud to be a part of the third annual Braintrust, promoting African-American entrepreneurship and innovation, hosted during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference,” said Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. “Our nation’s Historically Black Colleges & Universities graduate talented and driven young Americans eager to create new businesses, grow jobs, and disrupt old industries with positive new ideas.  As a strong supporter of HBCUs, I’m excited that the Braintrust will help graduates access venture capital and work to close broad disparities in entrepreneurship and financing. I look forward to supporting this initiative as a member of the Congressional HBCU Caucus and as Majority Leader in the Democratic-led House.” 

“HBCUs have made and continue to make tremendous contributions to our society. Their graduates have helped shape the course of our nation’s history and secure freedoms that they have not always enjoyed,” said Majority Whip James E. Clyburn. “HBCUs continuously serve as a hotbed for innovation and are pipelines to productive careers. As an HBCU graduate, I’ve benefited personally from the exceptional value and educational preparation that these institutions provide. I applaud Congresswoman Adams’s efforts with this year’s Braintrust highlighting the important role HBCUs play in producing top talent and connecting these students to venture capitalists, corporate executives, and Members of Congress.”

“As an engineer by trade, I know the importance of innovation in businesses and industries. We should be using all the tools at our disposal to increase young people’s access to the networks necessary for their success, and HBCUs play a huge role in this process,” said Congressman Bruce Westerman (AR-04). “All Americans should have equal access to these resources. This year’s Braintrust will move us closer to our shared goals.” 

“Our nation is stronger when everyone has an opportunity to achieve the American dream, and the HBCU Braintrust is an exciting way to collaborate and discuss innovative ways to create further opportunities for students at our nation’s HBCUs,” said Congressman Bradley Byrne, co-chair of the Congressional Bipartisan HBCU Caucus.  

“HBCUs play an essential role in education in our country,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13). “For generations, HBCUs have been the training ground for many of our nation's best and brightest African-American entrepreneurs, even at a time when other doors to academic achievement were closed to them. With a 400% increase in African American owned businesses between 2017 and 2018, I believe it is more important than ever that we invest in HBCUs and uplift their vital role in education, as well as work for equal access to venture capital for African American entrepreneurs to further that entrepreneurial spirit.”

“HBCUs have a strong history of producing innovators and top talent in the African American community, the U.S., and the world. Their contributions to science, technology, and every other aspect of American society and development have served as tools for the survival and advancement of mankind,” said Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30). “I am delighted that we are focusing on the innovative talents of our HBCU family and hope that we can open up more access to venture capital funds and opportunities so that we can continue to grow.”

“As a member of the HBCU Caucus, I’m excited to welcome HBCUs from my home state of Georgia and all across the nation to the third annual National HBCU Braintrust,” said Congressman Doug Collins (GA-09). “HBCUs are critical to diversifying the venture capital industry, and this year’s conference will ensure students have access to the tools they need to compete in today’s economy. I want to thank Rep. Adams for her steadfast leadership and for constantly working to build strong partnerships between innovators and HBCUs.”

“As a member of the bipartisan Historically Black Colleges and Universities Caucus, I’ve seen firsthand how HBCUs – like Fayetteville State University in my district – prepare our students for 21st Century opportunities,” said Congressman Richard Hudson, (NC-08).  “I remain committed to working with my colleagues to support our schools and build a more diverse and inclusive workforce.” 

“In Virginia and across America, HBCUs are key to educating the next generation of top entrepreneurs and business talent. Congress must continue to fight for HBCUs, and I am thrilled that students from Norfolk and beyond will be in Washington attending the Braintrust summit,” said Congresswoman Elaine Luria (VA-02). “This is a terrific opportunity for students to meet with top corporate executives and members of Congress. By promoting much-needed diversity in the business community, this event is clearly an asset to our nation and our economy.”

“Nashville’s four HBCUs are integral to the history and vitality of our community. American Baptist College, Fisk, Meharry, and TSU were founded when the pursuit of higher education was largely inaccessible to African Americans, providing opportunities to countless students,” said Congressman Jim Cooper (TN-05). “Educators, Civil Rights Activists, and Olympians have walked the halls of these storied institutions – including Diane Nash, Congressman John Lewis, and Wilma Rudolph. Our HBCUs helped change America, and their impact continues to this very day.”

Full Schedule:

Day 1: Wednesday, September 11, 2019

  • 12:00PM - 1:30PM: Microsoft Luncheon and Networking Reception
  • 2:00PM – 4:30PM: Tour of the African American History Museum
  • 5:00PM – 6:30PM: Dinner with Facebook; Careers in Tech Policy
  • 6:00PM - 8:00PM:  Tech & Telecom Association’s Salute to Diverse Innovation & Scholarship Reception Benefiting the Advancing Minorities Interest in Engineering Foundation

Day 2: Thursday, September 12, 2019

  • 10:30AM - 11:30AM:  HBCU Braintrust Panel One - The Presidents 
  • 12:00PM - 1:00PM: HBCU Braintrust Panel Two - The Industry Partners
  • 1:30PM – 3:00PM: Model Congress with the Congressional Black Associates
  • 3:00PM – 6:00PM: Tech 101: Navigating 21st Century Careers

Day 3: Friday, September 13, 2019

  • 9:00AM – 10:30AM: Breakfast with McDonald’s & the National Football Player’s Association
  • 10:30AM - 2:00PM: HBCU Innovation House

The Braintrust is designed to connect HBCU students to new opportunities and experiences.  The Congressional Bipartisan HBCU Caucus launched the Braintrust in 2017 to spur greater collaboration between industry and HBCUs.  The Braintrust brings together government, industry and educational leaders annually to discuss the condition of HBCUs and to find solutions to the issues impacting these schools and their students.  

This year, the Braintrust is proud to host leading Black venture capitalists and entrepreneurs to discuss strategies for cultivating the next generation of Black innovators. HBCUs produce 50 percent of all Black professionals, and 42 percent of all Black engineers; they are key to powering diverse innovation. Yet, only .1% of all venture capital is invested in Black men, and only .006% in Black women, and crafting stronger relationships between venture capitalists and HBCUs is essential to begin closing this gap. 

Participating Schools: North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University, Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University, Tuskegee University, Tennessee State University, Morgan State University, Bowie State University, Morehouse College, Prairie View Agricultural & Mechanical University, Howard University, Xavier University of Louisiana, Norfolk State University, Thurgood Marshall College Fund, United Negro College Fund, Association of Public Land-Grant Universities, and National Society of Engineers

Industry Participants:, Wells Fargo, American Airlines, T-Mobile, Microsoft, SAP, Intel Corporation, Google, Lyft, PayPal, eBay, SunTrust, Capital One, Duke Energy, Nvidia, Twitter, Facebook, Procter & Gamble, GlaxoSmithKline, Regions Bank, Adobe, IBM, FICO, Ally Financial, General Motors, FedEx, McDonald’s, NFL Players Association, Accenture, Amazon, Visa, Samsung, National Association of Broadcasters Foundation, Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association, Consumer Technology Association, Information Technology Industry Council, BSA Foundation, Plexo Capital, Kapor Capital, 645 Ventures, and MaC Venture Capital

Members of the Congressional Bipartisan HBCU Caucus: Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC) Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL), Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL), Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL), Rep. French Hill (R-AR), Rep. Marc Veasey (D-TX), Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC), Rep. Colin Allred (D-TX), Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-OH), Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) Rep.  Don Beyer (D-VA), Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-GA) Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), Rep. Anthony Brown (D-MD), Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC), Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Rep. André Carson (D-IN), Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-MO), Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL), Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Rep. Dwight Evans (D-PA), Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN), Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT), Rep.  Eleanor Holmes-Norton (D-DC), Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC), Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX), Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), Rep. Trent Kelly (R-MS), Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), Rep. Peter King (R-NY), Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), Rep. Al Lawson (D-FL), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA), Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO), Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA), Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN), Rep. Donald McEachin (D-VA), Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Seth Moulton (D-MA), Rep. Donald Norcross (D-NJ), Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), Rep. Stacey Plaskett (D-VI), Rep. David Price (D-NC), Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA), Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA) Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), Rep. David Scott (D-GA), Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Rep. David Trone (D-MD), Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH), Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR), Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL)