UNCF and Google are Paving the Path Forward to Increase Opportunities

A long-standing collaboration between UNCF (United Negro College Fund) and Google continues to make groundbreaking investments in historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

Google has invested more than $50 million over several years to elevate talent and innovation at HBCUs. Today, in partnership with UNCF, the investment grows—with an additional $2 million in unrestricted funding to Morehouse College and Hampton University.

Both institutions received $1 million to invest in technical infrastructure to support in-class and remote learning, as well as develop curriculum and career support programs for students pursuing career opportunities in the tech industry.

“Today’s announcement is a testament to the outstanding partnership that UNCF and Google have maintained over many years to help diversify and increase opportunities for students of color in the tech industry,” said UNCF President and CEO Dr. Michael L. Lomax. “Google’s investment is building on the work that is already underway on the campuses of Morehouse and Hampton to incorporate innovative uses of technology to educate students and support faculty. Google is setting the standard, and we’re calling on the entire tech industry and others in corporate America to follow Google’s lead.”

Google’s commitment to investing in the future of tomorrow’s Black leaders and professionals is directly addressing the diversity gap in tech.

“We are thrilled to partner with UNCF to continue Google’s ongoing commitment to invest in education pillars like Morehouse College and Hampton University. By supporting these institutions, we move closer to unlocking sustainable equity for the next generation of diverse tech talent and meaningfully expand pathways to the tech industry,” said Google Chief Diversity Officer Melonie Parker.

Google’s $1 million investment to Hampton University will enable the university to expand pathways and opportunities by facilitating needed infrastructure and classroom technology upgrades.

“We are in an unrelenting pursuit of making a reimagined academic experience a reality for our students, faculty, and staff, through digital transformation,” said Hampton University President Darrell K. Williams. “We are delighted to receive this gift and applaud the Google and UNCF partnership for increasing access to unrestricted funds for HBCUs.”

The $1 million gift to Morehouse will support the construction of the new Morehouse College Student Center. The Student Center will include a computer lab, study rooms, and collaborative learning spaces for students to use as a hub for developing entrepreneurial interests and sharing ideas. In addition, Google is also funding the tech upgrade of an existing classroom at Morehouse. It will be transformed into a Google Annex and outfitted with new computers and furniture.

“Our partners at Google and UNCF understand the importance of investing in the intellect and creativity of students of color who are on a trajectory to become future leaders and innovators in STEM,” said David A. Thomas, Ph.D., president, Morehouse College. “Morehouse appreciates this gift and partnership. It provides an opportunity for our faculty to expand its work in preparing students to thrive in the tech ecosystem as entrepreneurs and change agents who will bring much-needed diversity to the field and the creation of emerging technologies.”

In addition to the new Google Annex classroom at Morehouse, Google has also funded and constructed a Google Annex enrichment space at North Carolina Agricultural and Technology University (NC A&T), also an HBCU. Students at both Morehouse and NC A&T will be able to network with Google employees and explore mentorships and career opportunities through the partnership.

Over the last three years, Google investments have focused on elevating Black talent, Black innovation and Black excellence within the company and the tech industry. Google funding has propelled UNCF-member Spelman College to become the top producer of Black women who receive doctoral degrees in STEM fields.

In 2021, Google announced a $50 million grant for 10 HBCUs to enhance each institutions competitiveness in computer science technology, provide professional development opportunities for computer science faculty to innovate the curriculum, and prepare students for careers in the industry, specifically at Google, to help fund scholarships, and to invest in infrastructure to support in-class and remote learning.

Google’s grant followed its previous work to support HBCUs, including its Pathways to Tech initiative which builds equity for HBCU computing education, helps job seekers find tech positions and provides opportunities to accelerate their careers.

Texas-style barbecue brand offers pit-smoked catering

With football season in full swing, Dickey’s Barbecue Pit guests can enjoy game day without the stress of prepping and cooking.

The world’s largest barbecue brand is helping football fans across the country enjoy a variety of delicious options so they can focus on what’s most important this time of year, football! Whether it’s a watch party for two or a tailgate event of many, Dickey’s can provide the perfect pit-smoked meal for football fanatics’ winning dining experience. The worldwide barbecue brand has a variety of pack options including:

Family Pack (starting at $61.60) – two choices of meats, three large sides and six slices of Texas toast. Feeds four to six.

XL Pack (starting at $84) – three choices of meats, four large sides, eight slices of Texas toast. Feeds six to eight.

BYB Wings & Ribs Party Pack (starting at $134.40) - A combination of 18 ribs and 24 wings, mac and cheese, coleslaw, rolls, and barbecue sauce with ranch dressing.

BYB Original Party Pack (starting at $140) – Enjoy two lbs. of pulled pork, 2 lbs. of chopped brisket, large coleslaw, large barbecue beans, large potato salad, rolls, relish and sauce. Feeds 10-12.

“Dickey’s Barbecue Pit and football have always gone hand in hand,” said Laura Rea Dickey, CEO Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, Inc. “Our variety of pack and catering options team up perfectly for a small house party or a larger fan gathering. Be the MVP at your event, and order Dickey’s today.”

Dickey’s fans can enter code 5OFFPACKS to receive $5.00 off packs while ordering online at dickeys.com or on the Dickey’s App and call 866-BARBECUE to speak to our catering experts.

For more about Dickey’s, follow Dickey’s Barbecue Pit on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Download the Dickey’s Barbecue Pit app from the Apple App Store or Google Play.

For Dickey’s Virtual Concepts follow Wing Boss on Facebook, Instagram and Tik Tok; Trailer Birds on Facebook, Instagram and Tik Tok; and Big Deal Burger on Facebook, Instagram and Tik Tok.

About Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants, Inc.

Dickey's Barbecue Restaurants, Inc., the world’s largest barbecue concept, was founded in 1941 by the Dickey family. For the past 80 years, Dickey’s Barbecue Pit has served millions of guests in 44 states Legit. Texas. Barbecue.™ At Dickey’s, all our barbecued meats are smoked onsite in a hickory wood burning pit. Dickey’s proudly believes there’s no shortcut to true barbecue and it’s why our name isn’t BBQ. The Dallas-based, family-run barbecue franchise offers eight slow-smoked meats and 12 wholesome sides with 'No B.S. (Bad Stuff)' included. Dickey’s Barbecue 550 locations across the United States and eight other countries.

Dickey’s was named to Newsweek’s 2022 America’s Favorite Restaurant Chains list and USA Today 2021 readers’ choice awards. Dickey’s won first place on Fast Casual’s “Top 100 Movers and Shakers” list, been named a Top 500 Franchise by Entrepreneur and named to Hospitality Technology’s Industry Heroes list. Led by CEO Laura Rea Dickey, who was named among the country’s 50 most influential women in foodservice in Nation’s Restaurant News, was recognized by Fast Casual’s Top 100 Movers and Shakers list and honored by Dallas Business Journal. Dickey's Barbecue Pit has also been recognized by Fox News, Forbes Magazine, Franchise Times, The Dallas Morning News, The Wall Street Journal, People Magazine and QSR Magazine. Dickey’s Barbecue is part of Dickey’s Restaurant Brands which has more than 700 restaurants nationwide including brands Wing Boss, Trailer Birds, Big Deal Burger and bbqathome.com. DRB is led by CEO Roland Dickey Jr. For more information, visit dickeys.com.

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy's Hall of Fame

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC), the nation's largest trails advocacy organization, today announced that California's Sacramento River Rail Trail and Sacramento River Trail will be inducted to its iconic Hall of Fame.

Nestled beneath the Cascade and Trinity mountains, the trails provide 21 miles of transportation and recreation along California's largest river. The trail pair was selected for outstanding merits, including RTC's expanded eligibility criteria this year, which prioritizes multiuse trails that deliver exceptional accessibility and user experience, and contributions to the connectivity of regional trail and active transportation systems.

"Across the country, connected trail systems are proving their significance as essential community assets—creating safe space for people to be active outside, connecting neighbors and neighborhoods, and creating more transportation and mobility options for entire regions," said Ryan Chao, president of RTC. "This year's Hall of Fame nominees were examples of exceptional trails that are fundamental to our vision of a future where trails connect everyone, everywhere. The Sacramento River Rail Trail and Trail stand out by illustrating the impact of connecting trails in ways that provide opportunities for recreation, transportation and intimate connections to the history and nature steeped in place."

Once serving as a travel and trade route for indigenous peoples, then later by a subsidiary of the Central Pacific Railroad, the Sacramento River Rail Trail and Sacramento River Trail provide opportunities for the community to be active, access the outdoors, and connect to neighborhoods and destinations in and around the City of Redding, including the Shasta Lake Recreation Area and the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. The trails also serve as a backbone for a developing regional trail system that encompasses more than 250 miles and will eventually stretch from the Shasta Dam to Redding's southern neighbor, Anderson, and beyond.

"We are excited to share with the world that the Sacramento River Rail Trail and Trail are indeed Hall of Fame worthy. We are grateful for our many partners who have collaborated on the development and expansion of the trails and our many users and support organizations who make the trails better every day. We invite you to visit and experience these world-class trails and scenic river," said Kimberly Niemer, director of community services for the City of Redding.

The trails are home to the Sundial Bridge, an awe-inspiring feature that links both sides of the Upper Sacramento River. The 700-foot-long, cable-stayed, glass and steel working sundial spanning the Sacramento River attracts an estimated 100,000 global visitors each year.

The bridge, park and Redding's vast network of trails—built in phases over the past three decades—have helped transform the region. The vast regional system of trails is a product of a partnership managed by the City of Redding, the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service with the support of local groups, foundations, other agencies and community members.

"We are proud to partner with the City of Redding and other groups in managing these trails that improve the quality of life for residents of our area, while offering destination-worthy opportunities for outdoor recreation," said Jennifer Mata, manager of the BLM's Redding Field Office.

The trail pair was among three nominees voted on by the public between Jul. 31 and Aug. 7, 2023, securing nearly 48% of the vote. The Sacramento River Rail Trail and Trail duo is the 37th inductee in RTC's Hall of Fame, joining an exemplary list of trails recognized for their outstanding scenic value, use, amenities, historical significance and community benefit. More than 30,000 votes were cast in the 2023 Hall of Fame contest. The other nominees were the Hennepin Canal State Trail in Illinois and the Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail network in South Carolina. For more information about the Hall of Fame, visit railstotrails.org.

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is the nation's largest trails organization—with a grassroots community more than 1 million strong—dedicated to building a nation connected by trails, reimagining public spaces to create safe ways for everyone to walk, bike and be active outdoors. Connect with RTC at railstotrails.org

First ever Angry Birds Retail Cafe in NYC

One of the world's most popular games is getting a delicious real-life twist in Flushing, Queens. The retail café, named iSwii by Angry Birds Retail Cafe, will feature playful desserts, trendy bubble teas, gaming stations, a retail section, and unique interactive activities for the whole family to enjoy.

iSwii by Angry Birds Retail Cafe – the world's first Angry Birds-themed retail café – is set to open on Saturday the 8th of July, in Flushing's latest family-friendly destination spot the Food Court area within Tangram's new 275,000 square-foot, multi-level retail center, in the heart of the revitalized Queens-Flushing International Market District. The new interactive café and retail destination combines in-person and on-screen thrills, making for a unique adventure.

In a deal facilitated by Angry Birds' global licensing agency IMG, Angry Birds' creator Rovio Entertainment partnered with SCG America, a leading construction conglomerate, to build a one-of-a-kind retail café for Angry Birds fans to visit.

Designed for individuals and families alike, the 3,300-square-foot iSwii by Angry Birds is adorned with modern décor and features a collection of Instagrammable NYC-themed statue installations outside the entrance, an eye-catching bright mural ceiling with Angry Birds graphics, a vibrant terrazzo counter, and flooring resembling dessert sprinkles. Additional unique Angry Birds-themed elements include nest-like wicker and hanging chairs, bird paradise graphic wall coverings, and tropical plants on the shelving units where hatchlings, the baby birds wander around. Other fun interactive features include a glass-partitioned exhibition display with chef's custom-decorated yummy seasonal holiday cakes & pastries, all of which collectively create the most fun retail and cafe experience anyone can imagine. Interior Designs were by Tina Wu, Head of Interior Design, SCG America.

iSwii by Angry Birds experience is also available for private parties & events in private "nests" - rooms that will offer Angry Birds VR games & treats, including customizable Angry Birds-themed gift bags for party-goers.

"Launching iSwii by Angry Birds is a perfect way to bring locals and Angry Birds fans back to fun in-person experiences," said Executive Director of Asset Management of SCG America, Robert Leck. "This unique concept will feature endless culinary treats, bright visuals, newest Angry Birds Games and interactive technology, and the coolest-ever themed shopping experience. Angry Birds as a global brand was a perfect fit for this location with its appeal to a wide age range, gender-neutral audience and touch points in all entertainment forms. The fans will now be able to enjoy and engage with the brand in a completely new way, the location truly is an exciting first for New York and North America."

"We are always delighted to find forums for Angry Birds fans to interact with the brand in new and fun ways. This unique establishment goes beyond the screen, offering an immersive experience where fans and customers can delight in tantalizing foods and drinks as well as engage in gaming and capture extraordinary moments in our exclusive photo opportunities. The United States is a key market for the Angry Birds brand and we're excited to open this venue in one of the greatest cities of the world, New York", says Katri Chacona, Director, Brand Licensing at Rovio.

Over five billion downloads, 25+ million social media followers, and 96% brand awareness make Angry Birds a timeless favorite for fans. Launched in 2009 as a popular mobile game, the brand has since evolved into a globally-recognized media franchise, spanning various entertainment and consumer products, two feature films, a long-form Netflix series, and location-based entertainment. In the USA, the Angry Birds can also be experienced in interactive experiences through partners such as Topgolf and Immersive Gamebox.