Martin Luther King Jr., W.E.B. Dubois, Kamala Harris. These historic figures and more, have something in common, they all graduated from an historic Black college or university (HBCU).
It has been almost 200 years since the first HBCU was established and over this long history, a legacy of greatness and achievement has laid the foundation for generations to come. While these names will ring throughout history as vanguards for the Black community, we are reminded–now more than ever–of how valuable access to education and economic opportunity is for the future of our world.
Today we are happy to announce the launch of AT&T University’s HBCU Future Leaders Program, a multi-year mentoring and workforce readiness initiative for HBCU students. Beginning in March, interns from the AT&T EDGE internship and other student development programs will be selected to participate in a workforce readiness experience that will provide access to senior leaders, experiential learning, leadership skills development, and experts in technology and innovation. This exposure will help them to achieve long-term career success and make an impact in their communities.
Creating opportunity has been a driving force in our work to empower Black communities across the country. We recognize that to create opportunity, we must also invest in and nurture talent. During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, AT&T committed $10 million to create more economic opportunities and paths to success for Black and underserved communities. As a part of this commitment, we expanded our collaborations with organizations that cultivate Black technology development and entrepreneurship, especially within HBCUs. Through initiatives that increase diversity like NexCubed, Black Girls Code and Year Up, we’re helping to eliminate racial bias found in some of today’s technologies, as well as increase education and career readiness opportunities among Black youth nationwide. But, this is only one step.
“We at AT&T experience firsthand the outpouring of amazing talent from historically Black educational institutions; many of our employees are alumni of HBCUs across the country,” said Michelle Jordan, vice president, AT&T University. The HBCU Future Leader’s program will not only impact this group of future leaders but will also impact the wider Black community. To remain at the top of our game, we must strengthen our relationships with HBCUs and find new ways to attract and mentor Black talent entering the workforce.”
Participants will also be mentored by current AT&T employees, including members of employee resource groups and HBCU alumni with specialized expertise in technology, innovation and leadership development. The experience will provide critical insight to help shape their future.
HBCU Future Leaders can look forward to opportunities created to make a long-lasting impact that will extend well beyond their college career, including leadership skills through executive sessions, strategic thinking through career development content, and mentorship opportunities with AT&T engineers, patent creators, strategists and storytellers, many of whom are executives.
At AT&T, we believe that technology has the power to better lives, improve communities and drive societal change. This sentiment is one that inspires us to act and support organizations who share this same goal. We are proud to stand alongside a pillar of the Black community as HBCUs continue the legacy they have built, providing future leaders with the tools they need to thrive.