Friday, January 29, 2016

State Farm Expands Commitment to BDPA

State Farm, an American group of insurance and financial services companies in the United States, recently expanded its commitment as a Silver Level Sponsor to the 38th Annual BDPA Technology Conference & Career Fair, August 10-13 at the Westin Peachtree Plaza in Atlanta, GA. State Farm agreed to sponsor the BDPA Mobile Application Showcase for high school and college students by providing scholarships for the winning entries. The number of students competing in the showcase is expected to more than double this year.

State Farm currently ranked No. 41 on the Fortune 500 list of largest companies, insures more cars and homes than any other insurer and is a leading insurer of watercraft in the United States. The driving force of the Company is comprised of more than 72,000 employees and 18,000 agents. For the past 90+ years, State Farm agents have built and maintained lasting customer relationships. Its tradition of innovation and customer commitment help keep State Farm the industry leader.
Theonnie Shields
State Farm is proud to be a sponsor of the 2016 BDPA Mobile showcase. As we continue to grow our State Farm Systems Department in the Atlanta area, we feel it’s important to be a part of this conference,” said State Farm systems manager Theonnie Shields.
Founded in 1975, BDPA is the premier organization for African American professionals in the technology industry. BDPA has 47 chapters across the United States and is the largest African American Information Technology Association in the country. BDPA continues to fulfill its mission and work to bridge the digital divide by providing career growth opportunities for its members.
National BDPA is excited with the sponsorship renewal from State Farm,” says BDPA conference director Pamela Mathews. “We appreciate the scholarships to recognize our Mobile Application Showcase Winners during the upcoming national conference and your support overall. Thank you, State Farm, for your continued partnership.”
To become a BDPA partner like State Farm or to learn more about the National BDPA Technology Conference in Atlanta, as well as sponsorship opportunities, please contact BDPA Corporate Sales Team by email at or301-584-3135 x108.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Grant Declination: American Airlines (BDPA New York)

BDPA Education and Technology Foundation (BETF) and BDPA New York chapter learned that American Airlines Community Relations office declined our $7,500 grant proposal. The declination letter read as follows:
Dear Mr. Hicks,

Thank you for your recent application requesting support for BDPA Education and Technology Foundation. Each year, American receives thousands of donation requests from worthy organizations and individuals. Due to the volume of requests, coupled by limited resources, we regret that we will be unable to provide a contribution as requested. Funding requests each year far exceed our philanthropic budget and many worthy causes are declined.

While we won't be able to support BDPA Education and Technology Foundation through our corporate giving programs, you may be eligible to receive a "Flights for 50" reward through our employee volunteer program, Do Crew. Flights for 50 rewards were created to support causes and organizations that are important to our employees. When American Airlines employees volunteer 50 hours, in a calendar year, with eligible nonprofit organizations, the benefit organizations will be eligible to apply for in-kind travel. Should BDPA Education and Technology Foundation have an American Airlines employee actively volunteering, please ask them about the Do Crew program and how they may designate your organization for an award.

American applauds your dedication to the community. Although we are not able to offer a donation through our Corporate Giving Program, please accept our best wishes for much success.

American Airlines Community Relations

We are disappointed by this result, however, BETF will continue to aggressively seek out funding to support the 2016 Student Information Technology Education & Scholarship (SITES) program in New York.   Are there any employees of American Airlines willing to work with us on the 'Flights for 50' program?

Finally, we do ask our readers to consider making a secure online donation in support of BDPA New York right now!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Message from National BDPA President

Mike Williams
Good morning BDPA members. As my first official post as your National President, I just wanted to tell you how excited I am about BDPA and what's to come in 2016 and beyond.

Over the weekend the National Board of Directors engaged in some very productive discussions about our strategy, our finances, brand rejuvenation, and our upcoming conference in Atlanta. We also welcomed our new regional leaders and board members (Ashton Clark, Hayward West, Curtis Jenkins and William Smith) and Andreana Dunbar as our new secretary.

As we discussed our conference, we all agreed that our conference theme should be about connecting. During our conferences we connect generations of professionals, professionals with employers, vendors with companies, and people with each other. Lastly, in this digital world we live in, everything is connected in one way or the other. So, we thought it was fitting that the theme of our conference for 2016 be 'BDPA CONNECT'.

We also talked about leading from the top. What that means is that at the national level we want to support and enable chapters at the local level by providing tools they can use for member orientation, sponsorship pitches, and general information about BDPA that can then be re-purposed and used at your discretion. Soon we will be forwarding a presentation and brochures that every chapter can use to enable you to achieve your chapter objectives.

We have a lot ahead in 2016. Our collective goal at every level should be "to do better and be better" than we were last year. That is not to say that last year was not a successful one; in fact, it was very successful by all accounts, however, we must continue to raise the bar and our own expectations of ourselves. My challenge for myself and to all of you is that we raise the bar and our expectations. Let's hold ourselves and each other accountable in 2016.

Fear is something you can overcome, doubt is just giving up before you even tried. Change can cause fear but fear never prevents you from stepping forward. Let's step forward.

We are already the champions, we just need to go pick up our trophy. Let's go!

Mike Williams, president
National BDPA

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Bemley Scholar: Pandora Brown (Central State University)

Pandora Brown
Pandora Brown represented BDPA Columbus chapter as a member of the national High School Computer Competition (HSCC) team at the 2011 and 2012 championships. Her team surprised everyone by taking the bronze medal at the 2011 HSCC championship held in Chicago. She won a Dr. Jesse Bemley Scholarship for her BDPA performance that will be used during her sophomore year at Central State University where Pandora is majoring in criminal justice.

We asked Pandora to share her thoughts on her BDPA experience. She wrote,
"Joining BDPA had to be one of the best decisions I have ever made. When I joined I met new people, I got to travel, and I was also able to earn scholarship money. I would recommend BDPA to all students interested in stem. I feel as if it is a really good opportunity for students to network with Black business owners. Also I feel as if it creates a bigger window of opportunity for those who may need it."
Pandora plans to serve as an officer in the United States Air Force after graduation. She is a remarkable role model for other young women in the BDPA Student Information Technology Education & Scholarship (SITES) program. We want to increase the amount of money in our Bemley Scholarship Fund and we encourage our readers to take a moment to help us by making a secure online donation right away!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Fiat Chrysler Automotive Scholar: Austin Little (Morehouse College)

Austin Little
The Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Scholarship for BDPA Students is intended to provide financial assistance to a graduating high school senior or college pursuing a degree in Information Technology (IT) or an IT related discipline. FCA agreed to work with BDPA Education and Technology Foundation (BETF) to award four $2,500 scholarships in 2016. One of the scholarships is going to Austin Little, a junior at Morehouse College, majoring in Applied Physics and Electrical Engineering.

Throughout his college career, Austin has conducted research at Cornell University on efficient materials for Magneto-Restrictive Random Access Memory. In addition, he worked with Georgia Institute of Technology in computational fluid dynamics using numerical analysis techniques.

This scholarship is limited to BDPA students. Austin Little participated in the 2011 and 2012 National BDPA High School Computer Competition (HSCC) championship representing the city of Detroit. His team took home the silver medal in 2012.

2012 HSCC Team (Austin on the far right)
We asked Austin about his thoughts on his BDPA experience.
He wrote, "There is no single memory that serves as my testimony to BDPA. This organization has helped me grow as a future IT professional as well as establish lifelong personal relationships with people interested in the IT industry that look just like me."
Austin will stay in Atlanta this summer at the Georgia Institute of Technology developing a machine learning algorithm to automatically alert a wheelchair bound person when she needs to readjust seating positions. Upon graduation Austin wants to work in the field of Big Data Analytics.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

James Fields Will Use Bemley Scholarship to Attend Oklahoma Christian University

James Fields
James Fields was a member of the High School Computer Competition (HSCC) team trained by BDPA St. Louis chapter during his four years of high school. His chapter took home the silver medal at the 2012 HSCC championship. He earned a $1,000 Dr. Jesse Bemley Scholarship for his silver medal win. He will use that scholarship in support of his education at Oklahoma Christian University.
James wrote, "Going through high school, I knew design was always an interest for me. I took several graphic design and illustration classes, but there was something that I knew I was missing. I also longed for technical experience. I took several computer classes, starting with basic web page creation and entering the realm of programming, going all the way to AP and programming classes. Nearing the end of high school, I was employed for a time in a programming position, as well as several other nontechnical jobs. At Oklahoma Christian, I am currently studying animation, blending my technical experience and design aptitude. After college, I hope to get a job at a game company doing animation or character design."
We asked James to share his memories of the BDPA experience. He wrote,
BDPA St. Louis students & trainers at 2012 BDPA Conference
"The BDPA High School Computer Competition was a huge help to me both as a person and as a student of the technical sciences. I joined BDPA on recommendation by a close family friend. I did not have a lot of technical experience when I entered the program, but I left with a wealth of skills that are extremely relevant to the career I intend to end up pursuing. When I started BDPA, all I had was a desire to learn, no actual skills. When I left, I had learned not only technical skills that I would need, such as programming in a variety of languages conducive to web development, but also important interpersonal skills I would need. I can remember distinctly one year during a competition when I had an idea for our project that ultimately needed to be scrapped. I learned then that not all of my ideas will be a good fit for the project that I’m working on. BDPA taught me that sometimes, I need to sacrifice what I want for the good of the overall. BDPA gave me the ability to network in a professional environment, and helped me with my group problem solving skills, so that in the future, I will have a much easier time not just creating things, but being able to create things with other people, and how to deal with everyone in a group’s ideas and input and sort it all out."
We have asked James to consider applying for the 1st annual Wanda Everett BDPA Scholarship. Now, we will ask you to help us grow the Dr. Jesse Bemley Scholarship Fund for future 'James Fields' out there! Heck, it's my birthday wish!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Bemley Scholar: Jacqueline Nobbe (Truman State University)

Jacqueline Nobbe
Jacqueline Nobbe participated in the BDPA computer camp hosted by our St. Louis chapter from 2010 thru 2013. She earned a place on the national High School Computer Competition (HSCC) team in 2011 and 2012. Her team earned the silver medal in 2012 and she plans to use the Bemley Scholarship that she earned to attend Truman State University. Currently, Jacqueline is majoring in computer science with a minor in cognitive science.

When asked about her BDPA experience, Jacqueline wrote,
"We will see what doors open up when the time comes. I hope to find a career that involves meeting inspired people and working on projects that will help make an positive impact on the world.

If it weren’t for my experiences with BDPA, chances are, I would not be a CS major, nor would I have the wonderful group of people around me that help me grow and stay inspired by the possibilities of computer science. I think what I appreciate most about my time with the HSCC was being surrounded with such wonderful mentors that were (and still are) so willing and excited to foster the same inspiration in us as students. My mentors in the program were inspired by computer science to pass that on, and it really showed during the weeks of training.

I currently work as a service representative at Truman State University’s IT Service Center, and will be working as an intern at Strategic Sales Systems this summer."
We encourage our readers to make a secure online donation to the Dr. Jesse Bemley Scholarship Fund so that we can continue to recognize young scholars like Jacqueline in the future!

Friday, January 15, 2016

FedEx Charitable Giving

Please be advised that FedEx accepts applications and proposals via its website only. To apply, please visit the website at, scroll down the page and click on the purple block of text that reads, "FedEx Charitable Contribution Guidelines". After this window opens, click under the block of text that reads, “Contribution Application”.

A new window will open and you will be required to enter your organization’s nonprofit tax identification number to begin the automated application process. All decisions are made within 4 to 6 weeks and you will be notified in writing. Due to the large volume of requests received, they are unable to review any proposals not submitted through our online application process.

The next step is yours. FedEx is a possible source of support for your organization. They look forward to reviewing your proposal when it is submitted online. If you have any questions or concerns with your online application, please contact Sarah Farrell at .

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Wanda Everett BDPA Scholarship (Due: 4/1/16)

BDPA Education and Technology Foundation (BETF) and Daugherty Business Solutions seek to support the career aspiration of BDPA students in the St. Louis area. We are proud to offer the 1st Annual Wanda Everett Scholarship for BDPA Students to any eligible BDPA St. Louis student member.

The 2016 application is online.   We will provide a $2,500 one-time only scholarship for an eligible high school senior or college student pursuing a degree in Information Technology (IT) or IT-related discipline. All application materials must be RECEIVED by April 1, 2016 in order to be eligible.

The next step is yours! Do you know anyone who might be interested in this $2,500 college scholarship? The deadline is approaching so don't delay!

Feel free to contact us on if you have questions or wish to discuss further.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Grant Declination: Interactive Intelligence Foundation (BDPA Cincinnati)

BDPA Education and Technology Foundation (BETF)and BDPA Cincinnati learned that our $20,000 grant proposal has been declined. BETF will continue to aggressively pursue funding support for all 47 local BDPA chapters ... including the one in Cincinnati.

The declination letter read as follows:

We regret to inform you that we are not able to fund BDPA Education and Technology Foundation’s grant request for this funding cycle. We do, however, encourage you to re-apply for our next grant application cycle in November of 2017.

We very much appreciated the opportunity to consider your charitable organization in our most recent grant application process. This year, we received more than 150 grant applications which made our grant decision very hard as all were admirable organizations working for great causes. Interactive Intelligence Foundation is a small corporate foundation and only has a limited amount of money to distribute.

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to understand and appreciate your organization; we encourage you to keep up your good work because all of our futures depend on breaking the cycle of disadvantage youth.

The Interactive Foundation Board of Directors

We invite the BDPA Cincinnati chapter leadership ... and in fact, we invite leaders from all 47 local chapters ... to contact the BETF executive director about our funding guidelines. Let's work hard to ensure that we have large participation in the national championships for High School Computer Competition, IT Showcase and Mobile Application Showcase.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Grant Proposal: Delta Air Lines Foundation (BDPA Seattle)

BDPA Education and Technology Foundation (BETF) worked with BDPA Seattle chapter (president, Ann Robinson) to submit a grant proposal to Delta Air Lines Foundation seeking ten (10) round-trip tickets. The tickets will allow BDPA Seattle students and chaperones to travel from the Pacific Northwest to Atlanta to participate in the various Student Information Technology Education & Scholarship (SITES) programs that occur at the BDPA Technology Conference on August 10-13, 2016.

BETF will continue to aggressively pursue funding to support the SITES initiative in Seattle ... including preparing students for the BDPA IT Showcase, BDPA Mobile Application Showcase and the High School Computer Competition. BETF is willing to do the same for any of the 47 local BDPA chapters. Reach out to BETF executive director if you have questions or wish to discuss further.

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Entrepreneurial Pledge

I am an entrepreneur. All of my income is derived from my ability to provide value to my clients. As I enter the new year it is my intention to follow the following four principles as laid out by Melvin Gravely in his book, 'Making It Your Business: The Personal Transition from Employee to Entrepreneur'.

With the following four principles as my guide, which hold me and only me accountable for the outcomes, I commit myself. Any and everything I want will take my personal commitment to make happen. If I do nothing different from what I do today, I should expect nothing different from what I have right now. With all that the world has to offer in front of me, I pledge:
  1. I will start with what I have today. It is all I have! I know I will never have all I think I need. But, my ideas and dreams cannot wait another day. I must do what I can with what I have right now.
  2. I will commit to the habit of continuous learning. Knowing the importance of learning practical information about myself and about my craft is my weapon against the dangers of a rapidly changing world.
  3. I will choose to do something over doing nothing. Anyone can do nothing and most people do. It takes my action to make things better. Anything worth having is worth my doing something to get.
  4. I will fight against the constant urge to give up. Understanding that the difference between those who have tried to do and those who have done often rests in the ability to keep trying.
This is my pledge to myself and to my aspirations. I take this pledge today, and I will live it every day because I can have what I want if I am willing to make the decision, set the direction and have the disciplined determination to see it through.
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Sunday, January 3, 2016

Dr. Michael Boykin Wins BDPA Epsilon Award for Outstanding Technical Contribution

National BDPA annually selects and awards the BDPA Epsilon Award to recognize and celebrate key contributions and accomplishments of its members. Nominations are accepted across five categories and they are evaluated by a team of National BDPA members. One of the categories is Outstanding Technical Contribution. This honor is reserved for individuals who have pioneered new or leveraged existing technology to solve a critical business or technical problem.

BDPA is pleased to announce that Dr. Michael Boykin has won the 2015 Epsilon Award for Outstanding Technical Contribution. Dr. Michael Boykin is worthy of the Outstanding Technical Contribution award for repeatedly demonstrating the ability to position organizations to seize competitive advantage and enhance operational synergies through the modernization, integration and deployment of IT solutions. Evidence of Dr. Boykin’s contribution is reflected in his technical leadership of IT-enabled business transformation and mergers and acquisition. Recently, Boykin led the technical program for a $4B spin-off of a consumer goods company. As part of this effort, he developed the complete strategic technology plan and services to be used at company start up. The comprehensive modernization plan supported a 50% reduction in IT spend and facilitated the successful launch of the new company which saw nearly a 120% increase in stock price the first year.

Dr. Michael Boykin
As the Professional Services Director for Spyne, a Cisco-certified professional services firm, Boykin oversaw and led the technical infrastructure planning and execution for a major international pharmaceutical company. This effort helped Cisco obtain the Supplier of the Year award from the customer. As an enterprise architect with Alcoa, Dr. Boykin played pivotal architecture roles in the Common Infrastructure Initiative that paved the way for a modernized corporate ledger solution that enabled Alcoa to be one of the first companies on the Dow to report monthly performance figures to Wall Street.

Today, Dr. Boykin is a Distinguished Technologist and member of the HP Chief Technologist Office assigned to the Consumer Goods segment and is one of only a small number of minorities in this role. In this capacity, he engages with some of HP’s largest and most strategic accounts to establish forward-looking strategies, roadmaps and governance forums. He is the first African American, Alcoa Fellowship holder and Division-1A varsity football player to earn a Ph.D in computer science from the University of Pittsburgh.

The Epsilon Award nomination for Dr. Michael Boykin was submitted by Jambey Clinkscales, chair of the HP Black Employee Leadership Council.

BDPA Scholarship Birthday Wish (Wayne Hicks)

Former National BDPA president Wayne Hicks celebrates his 57th birthday on January 30, 2016. He is fairly certain that his friends won't be getting him a trip to Hawaii, so he decided to 'give up his birthday' to raise money for his favorite cause -- the Dr. Jesse Bemley Scholarship Fund.

He hopes to raise $5,700 for is 57th birthday. Will he make it? So far, here are the folks who think that he has a good idea:
It is really easy to support his BDPA birthday wish ... just click here!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

BDPA Brotha Shares 10 Sure-Fire Ways to Ruin Your Networking Efforts

I have been in BDPA since 1988. Some of y'all refer to me as the BDPA Brotha! I have shared tips on 'The Art of Networking' in the past. In fact, I recently shared 15 ideas on improving your networking results.

This time I thought that it would be worthwhile to point out ten things that many of us do to the detriment of our networking efforts. Here are 10 things you should *NOT DO* if you want to make your networking work!

  1. Do not abuse your network. Word of mouth will kill you.
  2. Do not abuse your contacts. Always honor their right to privacy.
  3. Do not burden your network with your problems, but, be willing to listen to advice when you ask for it.
  4. Do not develop a reputation for calling *only* when you need a favor.
  5. Do not ever think anything can replace real competence.
  6. Do not expect anyone to work harder for you than you are willing to work for yourself.
  7. Do not expect your network to find you a job.
  8. Do not give a referral without first calling ahead to alert your contact.
  9. Do not offer negative feedback callously.
  10. Do not talk excessively about yourself. Learn how to get your network to do this for you!

These are some ideas on how you can maximize your positive results from networking. Have you learned the 'hard way' about any of these ten networking errors in the past? Do you have other suggestions that we may have missed?

I will continue to share these 'BDPA Brotha' tips on a semi-regular basis!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Message from BDPA Philadelphia Chapter President

Cedric Edwards
Hello and Happy New Year! I am very excited about entering 2016 and fortunate that I will be operating as President of BDPA Philadelphia chapter. First, let me send a sincere thank you to Eileen Gadsden who has done a tremendous job as President of the chapter over the past few years. Her hard work and dedication will surely pave the way for a successful transition for me and the new board members. Please join me in thanking Eileen.

BDPA Philadelphia chapter has a rich and storied history of engaging in the local community and providing programs and services for our members. I look to continue on that path but I will need the help of our membership. The strength and success of our chapter lies largely within our members. The programs and services we deliver in Philadelphia should directly add value to our members and the local community. I will strive to increase our chapter membership and increase our brand awareness. I will work with our chapter members on engaging our high school and college youth in the programs BDPA offers. Through our programs and services, I will actively work with my board to strengthen current corporate sponsorships and develop new relationships.

I feel very positive about the future of our chapter and I want to welcome everyone to join me in ensuring BDPA Philadelphia is one of the top chapters of National BDPA. Working together we can make a difference!

Cedric Edwards, president
BDPA Philadelphia Chapter