Create career paths through education



By Patti Constantakis, PhD

Northampton, MA – News Direct – Walmart

Education means something different for everyone. Being part of a family of educators, I understood early on that education can open doors to opportunities. But growing up in a mixed race family on the US-Mexico border, I also saw first-hand the many barriers to opportunity within the education system, especially for blacks and African Americans. And for the adults who worked around me, those barriers were even greater. As a society, we haven’t paid enough attention to these barriers and the factors that hold people back. Finding ways to improve the system is a big part of what inspired my lifelong career in adult education and workforce development. And that’s also why I jumped at the opportunity to lead the philanthropic work of the Center for Racial Equity focused on education.

Walmart’s support for education has a long history, but our current focus started in 2015. The company has invested in the education and training of our associates through Live Better U and Walmart Academies, for example. Our focus on improving associate skills is rooted in our commitment to shared value – our view that we create value for our business by serving our stakeholders, including our associates and our partners. communities. After all, building a stronger workforce is good for business and good for society. We complemented these efforts with philanthropy that supports equity through on-the-job learning and a skills-based education system for adult workers.

When Walmart and the Walmart Foundation established the Center for Racial Equity in June 2020, we took a more critical look at the realities of education and workforce systems for blacks and afro. -Americans. Working with the Walmart Education Shared Value Network (a team of business leaders and associates working to find ways to use Walmart’s business capabilities to advance equity in education) , we highlighted three opportunities for philanthropy: and African Americans in the education and training system; second, building capacity within Our Nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to support students; and third, strengthening the links between college and in-demand careers.

Today we are therefore announcing $ 3 million in grants in these three areas:

A Walmart grant will support the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a think tank dedicated to research and advocacy to equip blacks and African Americans with the skills to thrive in the changing economy, to conduct research on the obstacles and gaps that exist within education and training for economic progress. This research will provide information on why educational pathways, such as university and industry certifications, have not served as an effective access ramp to employment for blacks and African Americans, especially in high-demand jobs like technology and health care.

As we strive to better understand the needs of black and African American students, a second investment will help build the capacity of our nation’s universities in 1890 – the HBCUs created by the Morrill Land Grant Act of 1890 with a focus on l agriculture and technology. A Walmart grant will support the 1890 Universities Foundation, which will build the capacity of staff to prepare students for careers in fields such as agriculture, health and technology through four centers of excellence at the 19 institutions. The 1890 Foundation will also develop a broadband strategy to meet the needs of universities.

Finally, through a third Walmart grant, we aim to strengthen the bridges of black and African American students between academic careers and sought-after careers in fields such as technology. Walmart’s investment in CodePath, which aims to increase technological diversity by transforming college education into computer science, partners with the 1890 Universities Foundation to serve more HBCUs with first expansion of computer science and technology courses from CodePath at five of the 19 universities. With this support, CodePath will also expand its mentoring, technical interviews and pre-internship services for students.

It’s time for us to think differently about how we support black people and African Americans as they pursue post-secondary education opportunities and start their careers. Going forward, we want to focus our philanthropy more on changing the system so that more blacks and African Americans graduate or graduate, enter the workforce, and create a stronger and more diverse talent pool. for everyone. Education can mean something different for everyone, but our central aspiration is that it means equitable opportunity and advancement for all.

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