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10 Workforce Development Programs Focused on Black Talent 

Published by Meghana Machiraju on February 1, 2022
4 min read

Meghana Machiraju

Meghana Machiraju is a B2B content marketing professional at Symba. Previously, Meghana worked as a Content Marketing Lead for a SaaS healthcare startup. She holds a Masters in Marketing from Schulich School of Business, Canada, and an MBA in Advertising from Symbiosis International University, India. Outside of work, you will find her traveling or looking for the next vegetarian restaurant to go to!

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In honor of Black History Month 2022, we are highlighting workforce development programs for people from historically excluded and underrepresented communities, with a focus on Black talent. Symba is proud to partner with and support some of these organizations in building new and intentional workforce development programs for the Black community:

1. INROADS: INROADS is the largest nonprofit organization committed to leadership and career development for underrepresented talent in the world. INROADS has prepared more than 154,000 diverse leaders with pre-employment skills and graduated more than 30,000 alumni into full-time professional positions with more than 1,000 corporate partners. Currently, INROADS serves 800-1,300 interns and 200 corporate clients. 

INROADS College Links is a college readiness and career preparation program for high school students interested in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) and Business careers. College Links equips its program participants with the skills they need to succeed in college, career and in life. 

INROADS has College Links programs in Atlanta, Cincinnati, Chicago, Newark, and Washington, DC, and recently launched in Dallas, Oakland, Orlando, and Minneapolis, expanding INROADS’s mission of leveling the workforce playing field for diverse students. College Links scholars have gone on to successfully navigate the earliest stages of the career lifecycle and beyond, including the C-Suite.

We at Symba, are excited to continue and grow this collaboration to provide early career-building opportunities for underrepresented students.

2. HBCU in LA: The Entertainment Industry College Outreach Program (EICOP) is a non-profit educational arts workforce development program. The program is dedicated to educating, training, and recruiting the best and brightest diverse student leaders from the USA’s Historically Black Colleges, Universities (HBCUs) and other Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) for careers across all aspects of the entertainment, media, sports, music and technology industries.

In 2017, EICOP joined forces with The White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (WHI-HBCU) under the Obama administration and launched its signature program, HBCU in LA. The HBCU in LA Internship Program provides a select group of diverse student leaders the opportunity to gain access and opportunities to internships essential for launching and leveraging a career in an industry where they have been sorely underrepresented. This innovative pipeline development initiative is the first Los Angeles based program of its kind to provide students with critical housing and the opportunity to participate in 10 week internships with major studios, networks, talent agencies and other global creative industry organizations. Program participants get access to paid internships, mentorship, and training opportunities.

3. Power2Inspire: Power 2 Inspire has been committed to helping young aspiring music creators and industry leaders rise to their highest self. The organization has its internship/mentorship program that helps gifted musicians/producers, ambitious singers/songwriters and high potential music business innovators between the ages of 18-24 both domestically and internationally, learn the ropes of what it takes to succeed in the music industry. This program was created specifically to help cultivate and develop the next generation of Black and Brown music creators and music business leaders.

4. ColorStack: ColorStack is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that runs community building, academic support, and career development programs for Black and Latinx college Computer Science students across the country. Their mission is to increase the number of Black and Latinx Computer Science graduates that go on to launch rewarding technical careers. They currently run 3 types of career development initiatives: 

  • The ColorStack Family: A national, event-driven community of 1000+ students hosted on Slack.
  • ColorStack Career Camp: A 3-weekend virtual bootcamp designed to equip program participants with the knowledge, resources, and community they need to conquer the recruiting season.
  • ColorStack Sprout: A 10-week program equipping students with the knowledge, resources, and community they need to pursue Computer Science.

5. 100 Black Men of America: The 100 Black Men of America, Inc. is recognized as the nation's top African American-led mentoring organization. Through the expansion, they’ve created 100 Black Men Chapters that prepare young men and women to realize their highest potential, by creating viable solutions to address local and national issues affecting African American communities.Through 57 years of testing, they’ve created the 100’s Successful Model, a proven blueprint for mentoring and developing young people into future leaders, by surrounding them with a positive network and giving them the opportunity that they may not have thought was possible.

6. Regional Black Contractors Association: The RBCA maintains a very effective working relationship with state, municipal, and corporate leaders and their supplier diversity executives, elected and appointed officials for the support of African-American business development. 

RBCA’s “Second Chance” Program is a comprehensive Workforce Development model that attentively addresses the needs of its ex-offender program participants. In an effort to combat recidivism, RBCA places emphasis on not only technical skills training, and job placement assistance but also wrap-around services. The program staff are seasoned professionals in working with the criminal justice involved population.

7. Austin Area Urban League: The mission of the Austin Area Urban League is to provide tools to African Americans and under-served populations to build a foundation for social and economic equity and equality. AUUL runs several programs to educate and develop African American youth such as Project Ready, The Urban Youth Empowerment Program, and Austin Area Urban League Collegiate Movement. They also run other career development programs like ‘Pathway to a Career’ that helps individuals ages 16 to 65 progress professionally through web-based computer literacy programming and develop important workplace soft-skills that position them well for success.

8. OneTen: OneTen aims to close the opportunity gap for Black talent in America. They give Black talent opportunities to learn in-demand skills, and get hired into family-sustaining careers with room for advancement. Their mission is to “hire, promote and advance one million Black individuals who do not have a four-year degree into family-sustaining careers over the next 10 years.”

9. Black Girls CODE: BGC builds pathways for young women of color to embrace the current tech marketplace as builders and creators by introducing them to skills in computer programming and technology. Black Girls CODE is devoted to showing the world that Black girls can code and do so much more. Their program areas include: robotics, artificial intelligence, 3D printing, blockchain, and more. 

10. The Blue Heart Foundation: Their vision is to be recognized as an expert coaching, training and ongoing mentoring resource for at-risk youth, homeless youth and those in foster care and aging out, and to be the agency of choice for the provision of these services. Historically, there has been a gap between Black representation in STEM fields compared to the Black representation in the general population. Likely due to the growing digital divide, the share of STEM-related bachelor’s degrees awarded to Black students has declined ever since the early 2000s. Plenty of exposure to STEM learning opportunities is required for these students to be able to leverage the skills and ways of thinking that can benefit their communities and future career path. To bridge this digital divide, The Blue Heart Foundation runs a program called BH STEM program. The Blue Heart Foundation encourages STEM interest for all students and holds regular STEM workshops for members. Learn more about the program here. 

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