Wilberforce University Connects with Penn National Gaming

Wilberforce University VP Natalie Coles

Students from the nation’s first, private historically Black university college (HBCU) will soon benefit from a new science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) program sponsored by Penn National Gaming, Inc.

The casino company announced that it has launched a new scholarship with HBCUs in states in which it operates and Ohio is one.

Over the next five years, Penn National will dedicate more than $4 million to fund STEM scholarships and an internship opportunity, and Wilberforce University (Wilberforce, Ohio) students will be a part of that agreement. The  university will receive $100,000 each year to support students in STEM programs and to enhance STEM academic programs on campus. The company is also offering an internship for a Wilberforce student through its “Leadership Excellence At Penn” (LEAP) program.

“We are elated to have served as a thought partner for Penn National Gaming as they launch their HBCU initiatives,” said Wilberforce University VP Natalie Coles. “Our students and faculty will see the benefit of their investment firsthand, which will increase our workforce ready graduates and prepare our students for thriving careers with Penn National Gaming and beyond.  We are so grateful!”

The launch of this initiative stemmed from the Penn Diversity Committee’s support of diversity and inclusion, leading the company to create a scholarship program for children of Penn employees. From there, Penn moved
forward to expand opportunities for other students of diverse backgrounds. The new initiatives include STEM scholarships and internships for HBCU students.

“Increasing access to STEM opportunities for HBCU students is another important step to promote social and economic equity, as well as diversity, inclusion, and belonging, ” said Jay Snowden, President, and CEO of Penn National. “Penn National is well positioned to be North America’s leading digital, entertainment, sports content, gaming, and technology company, and we look forward to supplementing these scholarships with real life technical skills development for the STEM internship recipients.”

WU campus aerial

Penn National’s commitment to fund STEM scholarships and internship opportunities is an extension of the Company’s established partnerships with 33 HBCUs across the country. The ongoing collaboration with HBCUs
facilitates career opportunities at Penn National’s properties and increases participation in its Leadership Excellence at Penn National Gaming (“LEAP”) Program, which provides hands-on training, mentoring, and real world experience to new or recent college graduates who are interested in building a long term career in the gaming industry.

“We are incredibly proud of our partnerships with HBCUs across the country,” said Justin Carter, Senior Vice President of Regional Operations for Penn National and Chairman of the Company’s Diversity Committee. “The
STEM Scholarship Program is another important step in narrowing the representation gap in STEM fields among certain underrepresented communities.”

Founded in 1856, Wilberforce University is the nation’s first, private historically Black college/university (HBCU). It is a member of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), the NAIA, and the Ohio Link Library Consortium. According to HBCU.com, Wilberforce is one of the top five HBCUs in the midwest.