Walmart and North Carolina A&T State University have announced plans to launch a program aimed at supporting undergraduate students as they pursue degrees in business, engineering, and other professional disciplines. The Equity in Education Initiative is slated for five years and will roll out over the course of three semesters, beginning in early 2021.
Powered by a $5 million investment via Walmart, the initiative is the largest corporate investment in North Carolina A&T to date. Delivery will take place through four focus areas.
They include the Black Male Initiative, housed in the Willie A. Deese College of Business and Economics and created and implemented with seed funding by the Executive Leadership Council, which will address Black male achievement, retention, and graduation rates, often lower than that of their female peers.
“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 E. Ashby, interim president and CEO of the Executive Leadership Council in a statement. “We designed the Black Male Initiative with 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 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.
“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 professional coaching, high-performance playbook, and employer connections to ensure they land career path jobs that deliver economic mobility for them and their families.”
Advancing Blacks in Engineering aims to not only produce even more graduates in engineering but to prepare them for leadership roles within the profession.
While North Carolina A&T is ranked among the most affordable universities in the country, tuition can be daunting for many families.
Scholarship Support will be made available for students.
“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, executive vice president, 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.”
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 N.C. 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.”