Walmart announced a new equality in education initiative with North Carolina A&T State University, one of the largest historically black colleges in the country. The retail giant is investing $5 million to help increase the number of African American 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. Walmart said the funds will support four main areas of focus:
• The Black Male Initiative, housed in the Willie A. Deese College of Business and Economics and created and implemented with seed funding by the ELC, 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.
• 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.
“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, 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.”
Walmart said the $5 million for equity in education is in addition to the broader $100 million Walmart and the Walmart Foundation announced earlier this summer to create a new center for racial equality.
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.
“We applaud Walmart’s commitment to the Equity in Education program, allowing us to bring the Black Male Initiative to a broader group of N.C. A&T students,” said Crystal 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.”
The initiative is slated for five years and will roll out over the course of three semesters, beginning in early 2021.
“Sixty percent of the 450,000 Black and Latino 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 professional coaching, a high-performance playbook, and employer connections to ensure they land career path jobs that deliver economic mobility for them and their families.”