Fayetteville State and Inner Banks STEM discuss future partnership

Published 12:00 pm Thursday, June 22, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

“It’s humbling, it’s pleasurable, but it’s also showing that when we work together we can do a lot of great things,” president and founder of the Inner Banks STEM Center, Alvin Powell said about a possible partnership between the center and his alma mater, Fayetteville State University.

The Inner Banks STEM Center (Inner Banks) and Fayetteville State University (FSU) are actively developing a partnership. One that Powell hopes can help the center obtain more grant funding to add more camps for local kids, begin to add paid staff positions and advertise their programs. (Currently, the center is run by volunteers.) In turn, the university will be able to market their Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) related programs. 

By networking with people he met when he attended FSU, Powell was able to invite Vice Chancellor for University Advancement Omar Bell to Inner Banks for a meeting about a possible partnership on Monday, June 12. 

Powell said Inner Banks hopes Bell can steer the center toward fundraising opportunities to augment operating expenses with grants. In his role at FSU, Bell provides leadership over institutional fundraising, serves as executive director of the University Foundation and more. 

Bell, a previous director of advancement for the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said the work being done at Inner Banks is “terribly, terribly impressive.” 

“It’s pretty clear that Inner Banks STEM Center is doing great work on a scale that one wouldn’t expect to find in that part of the county, in that part of the state,” Bell said. 

Powell also sees Inner Banks and FSU having a STEM based relationship where the school could assist with addition and implementation of possible future cyber security and Artificial Intelligence camps as well as enhancing current camps like aviation and aerospace, boating and renewable sources energy plus community outreach initiatives. 

“We see some very innovative collaboration opportunities in that direction, too,” Powell said.

Bell said the university is “excited” about the potential of a partnership. “As a university that prides itself on being on the cutting edge of STEM…it seems like there is a natural fit. We just have to figure out how that’s going to look.” 

Bell is hopeful there will be a formalized agreement at some point during the upcoming academic year. 

“It’s a great place,” Bell said about the Inner Banks and a “great reflection that we have alums that run the center, that work there, that serve on the board there, and that they recognized from their time at Fayetteville State how important these things are in the community.” 

Fayetteville State University is a historically Black university with more than 6,700 students. The university is located in Fayetteville, North Carolina.