Part of an Impact Grants Program made possible as part of Apple’s nationwide investment in Racial Equity and Justice and its support of the Propel Center, an innovation and learning HBCU collaboration


DOVER, Del. – The Propel Center, committed to advancing equity in education by serving as a global leadership and innovation hub for HBCUs, has selected Delaware State University to be among 15 institutions to collectively share $3 million for student and research-centered projects.

The University has been awarded a grant of $300,000 that will support its Vertical Agriculture and Sustainable Urban Ecosystems project.

The University will use the grant funding to develop a vertical farm to positively impact produce supply chain and sustainable urban agriculture in underserved communities. The vertical farm will employ innovative programming in areas such as plant genomics, precision agriculture, as well as the emerging technologies of artificial intelligence, data science, and machine learning.

DSU President Tony Allen said the University is well-positioned for such agri-tech research.

“Our College of Agriculture, Sciences and Technology not only has the expertise between the life sciences and agriculture, but they are merging those disciplines with unique business opportunities that could have material effect on many low-resource communities,” Dr. Allen said. “At Delaware State University, we high bars for our own sense of excellence and support. We expect the same from our partners. Propel, and its founders Apple and Southern Company, have been strong examples.”

“We were blown away by the innovation in the projects these institutions presented, and we are super excited about the tremendous expansion and exposure the students at these institutions will gain from their involvement in these groundbreaking initiatives,” revealed Dr. Cortney Harris, Vice President of Impact and Engagement at Propel. Dr. Harris embraces Propel’s mission to prepare generations of black leaders who will leverage technology, creativity and dynamic problem solving to accelerate educational equity.

“We believe all students should have access to the tools, resources, and opportunities to change the world,” said Lisa Jackson, Vice President of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives at Apple. “The HBCU community is full of creativity and vision, and we’re proud to support new programming and pathways to drive meaningful change through the Propel Impact Grants.

Dr. Charles Gibbs, President of the HBCU Consortium, Propel Center, said Delaware State University’s proposal stood apart from over 50 research proposal that were received. “The team lead by Dr. Winstead and the proposal that was submitted demonstrated the gravitas, the intellect and most importantly, the enthusiasm to address a major issue across our global landscape of food insecurities in our urban communities,” Dr. Gibbs said. It is our intent to amplify the great work that is being done at Delaware State University.”

Propel Center funding disbursements and grantee events began in January.

Imagined in January 2021 by founding partners Apple and Southern Company, the Propel Center is a first-of-its-kind innovation and learning hub for the entire HBCU community that leverages technology to advance education equity and transform the nation’s talent pipeline and workforce. Through a robust virtual learning platform, on-campus activations at partner institutions and a physical campus to be located in Georgia’s Atlanta University Center, Propel represents education now, designed for the future. The state-of-the-art edifice, featuring floating classrooms, ideation labs and common areas promoting interactive collaboration is slated for completion in 2023. To learn more, visit