Florida Memorial University has a new technology program that is opening doors for students and closing the wealth gap in this country. Get the full story from Omar Rodríguez Ortiz at the Miami Herald below.

The city of Miami donated $50,000 to Florida Memorial University to jump-start a program that aims to create a talent pipeline for cybersecurity and emerging tech in an effort to close the Black wealth gap. Mayor Francis Suarez presented a check during an event at the university’s Miami Gardens campus on Monday, Jan. 31, 2022. (Credit: Arlester J. Shorter II/AJ Shorter Photography)

Florida Memorial University is collaborating with music executive and philanthropist Ted Lucas to launch a program that educates students and helps them land jobs in the tech industry — a move aiming to close the racial wealth gap among Black and white households.

A nonprofit founded by Lucas, CEO of Slip-N-Slide Records, will assist in identifying and securing partnerships to operate a “Cyber Innovation Hub” at South Florida’s lone historically Black university. Additionally, the school plans to provide office and lab space for the organization and offer a curriculum and instructors to support it.

Students will have an opportunity to find high-paying jobs and ultimately create businesses for themselves in industries that specialize in cryptocurrency, cybersecurity and renewable energy, among others, Jaffus Hardrick, president of the university, announced Monday morning at the Miami Gardens campus.

The university will measure the partnership’s success by the number of students who graduate and land tech jobs, Hardrick told the Herald in an interview.

“I want to make sure that people are coming to invest in our students and in this institution,” he said.

The move comes after the school last August, for the first time in a decade, increased its year-to-year number of admitted students. Since 2012, enrollment had fallen each year with a net reduction of 51%, 1,878 to 915.

It will take a village to ensure the tech hub prospers at FMU, added Lucas, founder and chairman of TechNolij, a nonprofit focused on amplifying tech and entrepreneurship.

In 2019, the median white household held $188,200 in wealth — nearly eight times that of Black households, according to the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington, D.C.

Florida Memorial University senior Malcolm Longsworth speaks to event attendants at the institution’s Miami Gardens campus on Monday, Jan. 31, 2022. (Credit: Arlester J. Shorter II/AJ Shorter Photography)

Wealth — defined by Brookings as the difference between a household’s assets and debt — provides a “critical safety net” to households during economic downturns such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We need everyone involved,” Lucas said.

In an effort to jump-start the program, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez presented a check of $50,000 on behalf of the city. He said the initiative has the potential to improve the lives of those who have long been marginalized in South Florida.

“We want to create prosperity,” Suarez said.

Malcolm Longsworth, a senior at FMU majoring in cybersecurity, said earning a lucrative salary isn’t the program’s sole purpose. Gaining expertise in cybersecurity will help protect himself and others from digital attacks.

Data breach costs rose from $3.86 million to $4.24 million in 2021, the highest average total cost in the 17-year history of the annual “Cost of Data Breach Report” prepared by IBM Security.

“Not only does it give us a high-paying salary, it gives us knowledge that we can pass down to future generations,” Longsworth said.