The ongoing national protests triggered by the death of George Floyd has sparked new dialogues about race in America. For black business owners, it’s even harder to open and run a business due to economic and racial disparities within the system that make it difficult to access the necessary capital. Ten years ago, JPMorgan Chase started The Fellowship Initiative, a three-year academic and mentorship program aimed toward black and Latinx high school youth. Last week, the company celebrated its 10th anniversary with its virtual commencement ceremony with the recent death of George Floyd and the spread of COVID-19 reinforcing its mission.
The Fellowship Initiative (TFI) held its virtual ceremony to celebrate participants graduating out of the program as the participants shared stories of how the program has benefitted them as well as the value of mentorship. The program has plans to triple the number of young people through its New Skills programs and has already spanned across several cities around the country.
“These young men are America’s next generation of leaders. But too often, they are held back from achieving academic and professional success,” said Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan Chase chairman and CEO in a press statement, who also made an appearance at the virtual ceremony to speak to the young boys.
“The COVID-19 pandemic and death of George Floyd and many others reinforced how our nation’s history with racism and inequality remains unresolved. Together, we must continue to break down the barriers created by structural racism and focus on doing what is right. Over the last decade, The Fellowship Initiative has demonstrated what is possible when these barriers are broken down. Now is a time to address gaps in academic and economic opportunity and to fight for inclusion, which is why we’re expanding TFI so that more Fellows are given the chance to reach their full potential.”