Earl Pace and David Wimberly founded BDPA in November 1975 as a local association. Within three years, the founders grew BDPA into a national organization with chapters in Philadelphia, Washington DC and Cleveland. Today, there are 46 chapters throughout the United States. One part of the BDPA legacy is our program for college students and college campuses. This is a program that enriches the opportunities for our students in a variety of post-secondary education institutions with a focus on low-and moderate-income communities.
31% of BDPA’s membership consists of college students. BDPA understands that its educational life cycle moves from the classroom to the boardroom. A major element of the educational life cycle resides with college students. Annual membership dues for college students are only $25 … a significant savings from the annual membership dues that adult professionals invest in BDPA membership.
BDPA established the college student program to teach advanced computer science and community responsibility to students from historically disadvantaged communities. There are four major components of our college student program that impact on the educational future of K-12 students:
- College Scholarships
- IT Showcase
- Internships and Entry-Level Jobs in IT Industry
- Mobile Application Showcase
Most of our 46 local BDPA chapters run programs that provide science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curriculum and experiences for young people of color in community colleges, 4-year colleges and vocational schools. These training programs include a monthly program meeting hosted by each local chapter that provides remarkable information from industry professionals as well as unique networking opportunities that are not replicated anywhere else in the community.
BDPA seeks to have more students in college studying STEM-related disciplines. BDPA created the BDPA Education and Technology Foundation (BETF) in 1992 for the purpose of giving college scholarships to deserving high school students. Over 200 college scholarships valued at over $469,900 have been handed out by BDPA and BETF. In addition, BDPA created two programs that feature college students - IT Showcase (2003) and Mobile Application Showcase (2014). BDPA began the process to bridge the ‘digital divide’ before the term was widely known. BDPA recognizes that to close the gap of computer and technology literacy, minority youth must participate and compete in today’s digital economy. Otherwise, our youth run the risk of being obsolete in America’s workforce.
The BDPA college student program is intellectually challenging and builds self-esteem through the mastery of applied computer science. We create a foundation for academic and career success. BDPA trains our youth to use technology as a vehicle to learn skills and concepts beyond the technology itself. In essence it bridges the gap between long-term educational approach of the classroom and short-term skills experience of the workplace.
It is worth noting that all of these BDPA programs have an added advantage in our efforts to cultivate exceptional talent – we go beyond just providing programming and STEM-based skills. BDPA also trains these young people in project management, time management, public speaking, team-building and presentation skills. In summary, they learn the fundamentals of being an IT professional and personal leadership in the workplace.