Google’s VP of Global Partnership, Bonita Stewart, announced on Thursday that the company was planning to establish “Howard West” to recruit more black software engineers from historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) at Mountain View. Students are invited to study in a brand new program within the Google campus. The company has been formally recruiting from Howard University, and this initiative has now evolved into a residency for African-American computer science majors.

The new program

For a three-month period, 25 to 30 invited junior and senior computer science majors will work with Google tech employees to take computer science classes.

They will receive the famous free food perks from Google, and their tuition will be paid for by private donors and by the university. In addition to the main benefits, their housing costs are covered, and students will also receive a summer stipend. The program builds on the current Howard and Google partnership and the Google in Residence program, embedding faculty engineers and other HBCUs.

According to Stewart, HBCUs are producing more than a third of all African-American computer science graduates in America. These students face lack of exposure, access to mentors, and limited role models—all the issues Google hopes Howard West will be able to solve. Larger limitations, related to the issues linking the broader communities, are systematic barriers acknowledged by the program.

Currently, African-American employees only account for 1 percent of the company’s technology employees and only 2 percent of the company’s overall workforce.

The diversity issue

In Silicon Valley, the struggle for diversity in tech is often overestimated. A recent survey by Atlassian, indicates that how employees in the tech industry feel about diversity does not always line up with the facts.

Stewart told the Washington Post that the focus at Google so far has been narrowing or really eliminating “the digital divide." The term refers to the gap in access to information and technology. Based on Mountain View, in an outpost just within the campus location, Google plans to have 740 students complete the program in the next five years. According to Google U.S. data, the majority of hires at the company, or 59 percent of workforce, is white, 32 percent is Asian, and 3 percent is Hispanic.