RaPIDS Cohorts


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New York Age, 1922

AI4US Raising Funds for Rapids

Hagar led the way.

Born a slave, Hagar grew up on Richard Oldfield’s plantation on the White Oak River. Her father, Luke Smith, rebelled against the wealthy cotton planter. He secretly gardened in the nearby woods.⁣

He taught Hagar to read by slipping books from Oldfield’s library. He led clandestine prayer meetings. He also ran away many times. Hagar saw him maimed with a bullwhip yet still disappear back into the woods.⁣

In 1863, after Union troops drove Confederate forces out of most coastal towns, Luke Smith and his wife, Melissa, led their children to freedom (Changing their names from Oldfield to Smith — casting off their slave name). To reach Union-occupied New Bern, they crossed two rivers and the Lakes Pocosin — now part of Croatan National Forest. It was a wilderness crawling with cottonmouths and alligators. ⁣

Hagar more than survived. She created her own EdTech startup
The Town of Pollocksville was incorporated in 1849. It had four schools in 1873 for white students, none for black students.  Hagar stepped up, and stepped in!


By 1909, Grandma Hagar founded Garnett Training School. Colored students were educated here until integration allowed students to attend the white school in 1968.  She freed me...and Generations of others!⁣ AI4US is picking up the torch where some of us are laying it down.  Introducing — RAPIDS Cohorts

The goal of AI4US, is to increase opportunities for Black Women in the AI space, and more broadly, people of color.  


Our flagship program is called RAPIDS. The way it works: In Fall 2020, students will be placed in virtual cohorts of 20-25 students based on computing proficiency. These students take Nvidia’s Fundamentals of Accelerated Data Science in the fall.  The course is given as a 3 Semester Credit course.  We are uniquely using  Culturally responsive instruction that’s "a pedagogy that empowers students intellectually, socially, & emotionally”.  


This allows us to incorporate Breonna Taylor in a class on Logistic Regression. We are also particularly trying to reach students whose educational plans have been upended by Covid. Students who can not afford to return for their senior year of college.


The goal is not for students to just complete the class, they commit to becoming certified to teach it (and other courses in the NVIDIA Deep Learning Institute curriculum).   So, they can train the next cohort.  And go on to fill data-science/AI related roles, as interns or employees.  We are looking for partners who may be interested in Supporting AI4US students.

-Andrea Roberson




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Since 1900

Pollocksville, N.C.—The Garnett

Industrial School, established here by Mrs. Hagar A. Murrell, its present prinicipal is endeavoring to extend its work by the erection of a new building for classrooms, and a girls’ dormitory.

To do this, a campaign is being conducted to raise $25,000.

The school is now being operated under the Jones County Board of Education, as a part of the public school

System of District No. 1, Colored,Pollocksville Towsnship, as Mrs. Murrell and her husband, the Rev. D. W. Murrell,have turned over to the Board of Education, the present school property,Comprising six acres of fine farming land, the school building, now being used, and a block on Garnett Heights

for the erection of a new building. The county board has appropriated $1,000 for the work and on application has been filed with the Rosenwald Fund for additional assistance.  Mrs.

Murrell continues as principal.


The board of trustees of the school Includes some of the most prominent white citizens of Jones county, with Rev. I. R. Phipps of the Presbyterian Church, chairman; Attorney R. P. Bender, secretary; H.A. Chadwick Recording secretary; and C. Barker,

County superintendent public Instruction.


The school work will embrace not only text books, but also actual

lessons in farm work, at the work bench, cook stove, sewing machine and laundry. The raising of this fund will provide

also for repairing and equipping the old building, and for improving the farm land.  Contributions sent to Mrs. Murrell at Pollocksville, N.C., will be duly acknowledged.  Clothing or

money will be acceptable.

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