A four-year STEM program for high school students called SMASH is expanding to Spelman College this fall. 

SMASH is a youth education nonprofit focused on diversifying the field of STEM. SMASH’s CEO, Danielle Rose is a Spelman alumna. 

Founded on the campus of the University of California Berkeley in 2004, the program expanded to include other California schools such as Stanford, UCLA and USC. 

Then in 2017 SMASH launched their first program at a school outside California at Morehouse College and continued to grow across the nation. Spelman will be SMASH’s second program at an HBCU. 

Rose told The Atlanta Voice that they have been in contact with Spelman preparing to launch the program for over a year. 

“We know that HBCUs have been and will continue to play a critical role in building black excellence,” Rose said. 

The three-year long program is for 9th grade girls in a 50 mile radius of Spelman who have a GPA of 3.0 or higher. The application is open to all students attending a public school or a private school with financial assistance. 

According to Rose, one-quarter of all black undergraduates studying STEM attend an HBCU and one-third of all black students who earn a post-doctoral degree in STEM attended an HBCU for undergrad. 

Each school’s SMASH program is a little different to cater to the strengths of the host school. 

At Spelman, Rose said, the program will have a large computer science component as well as a curriculum that looks at how technology can be used to bring about social change.  

They will also collaborate with the AUC’s Data Science Initiative. And participate in ‘The Future is Intersectional’ series at Spelman where Black women interrogate and discuss the utilization of technology in society. 

When SMASH was chartered at Morehouse, Rose said part of the charter was to create a talent pipeline and provide early exposure to high schoolers on what it means to be a ‘Morehouse Man.’ 

“We understand that many of our young people are not receiving an equitable, just or properly resourced education,” Rose said. “We have a role in supporting them.” 

She continued that this program can exemplify what it looks like when you prioritize identity. Emphasizing that many young people are not lacking talent or motivation to succeed but the opportunity. 

This article is one of a series of articles produced by The Atlanta Voice through support provided by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to Word In Black, a collaborative of 10 Black-owned media outlets across the country.

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Madeline Thigpen is an education reporter and Report for America Corps Member. She joined the Atlanta Voice in 2021. At the Voice she covers K-12 education for the Atlanta metro region and higher education....