Challenge: How can the collaboration between Artists and Community Leaders inspire social change?

PROPEL’s arts and entertainment accelerator program embarks HBCU students on an in-depth Challenge Base Learning experience that transcends simple ideation but requires tactical boundaries and solutions. They're encouraged to embrace the challenges of learning workforce skills, push their boundaries, and let their creativity take flight.

The stage is set, and the spotlight is on them – our future industry leaders!

In this immersive challenge-based learning experience, accelerator participants embarked on a journey that merged creativity with technology, transforming their passion for the arts and entertainment into cutting-edge innovations. PROPEL, a trailblazing technology and innovation hub dedicated to partnering with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), guided eager music enthusiasts through this unprecedented opportunity.

“In real-time, HBCU students from across the nation are able to collaborate and inspire each other to craft solutions-based strategies that utilize the entertainment industry as a catalyst to impact social change and shape the culture. The CBL approach is such an insightful and creative journey that taps into the limitless ideas and potential of our accelerator participants. This process allows them to shape their collective voyage and chart their destination in a meaningful way.”  

-Joseph Barrett, Director of Student Impact & Programs PROPEL


Throughout PROPEL’s annual accelerator program, more than 40 participants, from 16 institutions nationwide, engaged in a series of challenges designed to stretch their artistic boundaries, ignite their entrepreneurial spirit, and leverage technology to disrupt traditional paradigms in the arts and entertainment industry. This life-changing effort, supported by Apple, helped bridge the ever-present and seemingly widening gap between college and career with a life-changing, hands-on experience that equipped students with real-world hard and soft skills, fostered a spirit of innovation, and empower them to become trailblazers in the evolving landscape of arts and entertainment technology.

Students to the Game Records (STTGR) was created as a fictional TECH company tasked with solving the challenge prompt: Black girls and women do not have the opportunity to fulfill the need for identity-affirming spaces outside of home, work, and school. This is made harder for those who live in predominately white areas.  The STTGR team actively engaged around a dynamic campaign concept that leaned into “Black Girl Magic,” using an emerging artist to combat stereotypes, spotlight the underserved community of Black girls and women and counter gender and racial basis through the power of a universal language, music.


STTGR went on to do substantial market research to identify artist Noori Belai – raising R&B singer and songwriter who recently surpassed 1 million streams across multiple platforms. Belai’s personal story as the daughter of Ethiopian immigrants and being raised in the predominately white suburb in Silver Springs, MD created the needed synergy to address the initial challenge. The young songstress’s noted passion for education reform to support Black girls and women underscored her authentic appeal to STTGR and ability to impact communities in need of uplifting and empowering music figures.


Propel Accelerator Students identified socioeconomic challenges that impact underserved communities such as gentrification, gun violence, and the amplification of positive images of Black and Brown women. Students used the art of storytelling through visuals and music to deploy a message of social change; bridging the gap between entertainers and their communities. A vision that promotes engagement with community leaders to bring about sustainable change and awareness.  

All Replies

Posted on January 12, 2024

Outstanding and important CBL experience. Very impressive. Thank you for the detail on your story and the inspiration for us all to engage students in challenges.

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