Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart and North Carolina A&T State University, America’s largest and top-ranked historically Black university, plan to launch the Equity in Education Initiative. The new program is aimed at increasing the number of Black college graduates securing careers in fields critical to the nation’s workforce. The program will support undergraduate students with tailored resources and assistance as they pursue degrees in business, engineering and other professional disciplines.
The Equity in Education Initiative, powered by a $5 million investment via Walmart, will deliver a spectrum of resources through four focus areas:
- The Black Male Initiative, housed in the Willie A. Deese College of Business and Economics, will address Black male achievement, retention and graduation rates, often lower than that of their female peers;
- The Leadership Cohort Initiative will be supported by Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT) and will provide male and female students in the colleges of business and engineering with the skills, coaching and connections to accelerate their professional careers after graduation;
- Advancing Blacks in Engineering aims to not only produce even more graduates in engineering but to prepare them for leadership roles within the profession, which has been historically dominated by majority populations; and
- Scholarship Support will be made available for students. While North Carolina A&T is ranked among the most affordable universities in the country, tuition can be daunting for many families.
Each focus area will support academic performance, enhance critical resources needed to graduate on time and prepare graduates for first destination career readiness and expand social mobility through additional economic pathways.
“The Equity in Education Initiative is not only an important step in advancing Walmart’s focus on eliminating barriers to opportunity, it also lays foundational building blocks with a diverse pool of talent who we hope will one day consider joining the Walmart team,” said Donna Morris, EVP and chief people officer at Walmart. “We’re focused on building a Walmart for everyone, and we know these programs will benefit students while also helping to further that vision.”
The investment for Equity in Education Initiative is in addition to the $100 million investment by Walmart and the Walmart Foundation to create a new center for racial equity. Walmart also announced four shared value networks (SVNs) focused on racial equity in our nation’s criminal justice, education, financial and healthcare systems. This is this first major initiative coming out of the SVNs, being driven by the education SVN.
Participants in the Equity in Education Initiative will have the opportunity to practice business case studies provided by Walmart as part of a rigorous career-readiness curriculum.
“As a leading STEM university with longstanding strengths in business education, we are always interested in growing the size and academic strength of our student body and the number of outstanding graduates we send into the world,” said NC A&T Chancellor Harold L. Martin Sr. “We are profoundly grateful for the support of Walmart and the partnership of our colleagues at The ELC and MLT. Their collective involvement in the Equity in Education Initiative will ensure this initiative pays dividends for many years to come.”
“We applaud Walmart’s commitment to the Equity in Education program, allowing us to bring the Black Male Initiative to a broader group of NC A&T students,” said Crystal E. Ashby, interim president and CEO of The Executive Leadership Council. “We designed the Black Male Initiative with a specific intent of investing in and changing the trajectory of the lives of young Black men. We value Walmart’s action to close the performance gap between young Black men and women, and young Black men and the majority population, at the college level.”
“Sixty percent of the 450,000 Black and Latinx students who graduate from college each year end up unemployed or in jobs that don’t require a four-year degree. That is not acceptable,” said MLT Founder and CEO John Rice. “Our objective is to equip these students with the professional coaching, high performance playbook and employer connections to ensure they land career path jobs that deliver economic mobility for them and their families.”
The initiative is slated for five years and will roll out over the course of three semesters, beginning in early 2021.