Courtesy Photo
Courtesy Photo

Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. and the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) have established a partnership to dramatically increase the number of black engineers produced annually in the United States. Leaders of the two organizations met at NSBE World Headquarters in Alexandria, Va., on Friday, Sept. 16 to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU). The three-year MOU outlines the collaboration of NSBE and the Kappas to reach the primary goal of NSBE’s 10-year strategic plan, which is to increase the number of African-American bachelor’s degree recipients in engineering from 3,501 in 2014 to 10,000 annually by 2025.

“Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity thanks the National Society of Black Engineers, NSBE, for your leadership…and for the engineers and leaders you are producing all across this country,” said Kappa Alpha Psi Grand Polemarch Thomas L. Battles Jr., the fraternity’s highest-ranking officer. “I think that it was probably in His design that we would come to this decision at this time, given the many challenges (black people) are facing in this country. And so we are delighted to partner with you in this initiative.”

“Greek fraternity culture has played a pivotal role in young men becoming male models of stature and integrity once they come of age,” said NSBE National Chair Matthew C. Nelson. “Your work is really important, and it aligns with NSBE’s mission. Positively impacting the community is something both organizations do very well.”

With the agreement, NSBE and KAΨ have pledged to promote and facilitate science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and career readiness for pre-college students from groups that are underrepresented in these fields. The objectives of the MOU will be achieved primarily through both organizations’ youth programs: the National Society of Black Engineers’ NSBE Jr. Chapters and KAΨ’s Guide Right National Service Program. KAΨ and NSBE will collaborate in establishing six Regional Guide Right NSBE Jr. chapters, to provide students in grades 3–12 with supplemental STEM curricula and exposure to STEM concepts and career opportunities.

“This partnership creates a synergy of two great organizations for a common cause to break down institutional and economic barriers for students of color to explore and pursue technology careers,” said Kevin Burnett, national Guide Right chairman of Kappa Alpha Psi, who is responsible for supporting all of the fraternity’s youth programs and initiatives.

Marlon Ridley, a proud member of KAΨ and NSBE, provided the leadership to structure the partnership.

“Our country is experiencing a paradigm shift in economic opportunity and social mobility,” he said. “Organizations like NSBE and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity have a rich history of uplifting the African-American community, and this partnership will give students tools to excel in this digital economy and expands the nation’s workforce of scientists and engineers.”

“This strategic partnership opens the door to collaborate on funding opportunities that can exponentially expand the size and scale of this initiative and therefore positively impact more young men and communities of color,” added L-Mani S. Viney, executive director of the Kappa Alpha Psi Foundation.

Four NSBE leaders who are members of KAΨ spoke briefly during the signing ceremony, pointing out the longtime contributions of the fraternity to the Society and vice versa: André Willis, a past NSBE national chair and a member of NSBE’s National Advisory Board (NAB); S. Gordon Moore Jr., also a member of the NAB and a past national chair; Richard Z. White, current national chair of NSBE Professionals; and Steven A. Jarrett, a member of the NAB.

“…I think the missions definitely go together,” Moore said. “It’s an honor and a privilege to see two organizations (to which) I give credit for my development and growth come together.”

“(The Kappas) are already successful in what you’re doing to develop young men,” Nelson said. “…We just hope to be a symbiotic partner and help you expand what you’re already doing, as well as learn some leadership and development (skills) from you that we can take to our young men as well as young women across the country.”

To reach the goal of 10,000 black engineers annually by 2025, “we need partnerships,” said NSBE Executive Director Karl W. Reid, Ed.D. “…It’s said that ‘Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor,’ and, ‘A cord of three strands is not easily broken.’ I’m thrilled that we are a cord of three strands, not just (our) organizations but the young men that we will influence going forward.”