Walmart and Increase Access to Educational Opportunities for Black and African Americans

by Savoy Staff

Walmart Inc. and have announced a trio of additional shared value and philanthropic initiatives that build on its strategy to advance equity in education, including:

  • Three leading Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) —Morehouse College, North Carolina A&T State University and Spelman College — will be added to the slate of Walmart’s Live Better U (LBU) academic partners, in partnership with Guild Education. Through the company’s LBU program, Walmart pays 100% of college tuition and books, and approximately 1.5 million part-time and full-time Walmart and Sam’s Club associates in the U.S. are eligible for the program.
  • Walmart teams up with Jackson State University in Mississippi, pledging $2.4 million to focus on academic and career enrichment and financial support.
  • Walmart, through the Center for Racial Equity, invests $3 million in a set of grants helping to strengthen the traditional education system.

Walmart welcomes leading HBCUs to its Live Better U education program

HBCUs were established with a principal mission to educate Black and African Americans who were largely prevented from attending existing colleges and universities. Today, they continue to welcome students of all races, ethnicities and cultures. By adding these HBCUs to its LBU program, Walmart is expanding access to new learning and career pathways for associates.

“These new partners further demonstrate our commitment to create a path for associates to learn, grow and discover their career journey,” said Lorraine Stomski, senior vice president of learning and leadership at Walmart. “As we work to become an even more diverse employer, what better way to fill the pipeline of future talent than with our own associates.”

More than 300,000 of Walmart’s associates are Black and African Americans. According to a recent study, 18% of Walmart’s Live Better U participants are Black, and Black associates who participated in the Live Better U program at Walmart were 88% more likely to receive promotions than non-participants.

Leaders from Morehouse College, N.C. A&T State University and Spelman College had the following to say about the partnership:

“Morehouse believes that a world-class education has the power to transform lives by evolving an individual’s talent and potential into achievement and realized outcomes,” said David A. Thomas, Ph.D., Morehouse College president. “By extending our mission to create leaders with disciplined minds as we educate Walmart associates, we are helping to create the innovators who will move the global economy forward.”

“As the nation’s largest HBCU and the top producer of bachelor’s degrees awarded to African Americans in North Carolina, we are an economic catalyst serving both the state and the nation,” said Harold L. Martin Sr., chancellor of N.C. A&T State University. “This latest collaboration with Walmart expands our educational impact by providing the knowledge and skills LBU students need to build their careers.” (Note: Today’s announcement builds on the $5 million Equity in Education initiative launched in late 2020.)

“For 140 years, Spelman College has been a champion for lifelong learning. We are excited to partner with Walmart to expand and extend our offerings to adult learners who are looking to advance their careers, elevate their expertise or explore new fields,” said Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D., president of Spelman College. “As a liberal arts college that consistently leads in numerous rankings from innovation and social mobility, to being the producer of Black women scientists, we are looking forward to assisting Walmart employees who seek to earn the credentials that will catapult careers.”

Walmart has 65,000 associates who have participated in an LBU program since its inception in 2018, growing by 9,793 since Walmart announced it would pay 100% of college tuition and books for associates this summer. The full list of academic partners for Walmart’s LBU program now includes Bellevue University, University of Massachusetts Global, Johnson & Wales University, Louisiana State University online, Pathstream, Penn Foster Career School, Penn Foster High School, Purdue University Global, Southern New Hampshire University, University of Arizona, University of Denver, Wilmington University, North Carolina A&T State University , Morehouse College, Spelman College and Voxy.

Walmart invests $2.4 million over three years with Jackson State University

Walmart and Jackson State University (JSU), through a partnership with JSU Athletics, are deepening their relationship and focusing on three core pillars to benefit all students: academic enrichment, career enrichment and financial support.

Walmart is pledging $2.4 million over three years, including investing in case studies, an executive-in-residence program where Walmart leaders will advise faculty on curriculum and lead mentoring circles, and supporting key athletic initiatives including rebuilding the practice field used by JSU athletes. The partnership, initiated by head football coach Deion “Prime” Sanders, is set to benefit all JSU students, including non-athletes and student-athletes alike.

Walmart through the Center for Racial Equity invests $3 million in grants

The Center for Racial Equity is announcing a $3 million investment in a set of education grants as part of the $100 million commitment announced last year to address inequity across education, health, finance and criminal justice systems. An initial focus of the center’s education philanthropic approach aims to strengthen the post-secondary education system for Black and African American students.

“Our work through the Center for Racial Equity builds on our business and philanthropic efforts to advance equity in education and seeks to shift the system for Black and African American students,” said Kirstie Sims, senior director, Center for Racial Equity. “These initial investments will help us develop research on the barriers in the system, build capacity of our nation’s HBCUs and strengthen the pathways between education and in-demand careers.” Center for Racial Equity investments include:

Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies – The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies will conduct research on the barriers and gaps that exist within education and training for economic advancement to provide insights on why education pathways, such as college and industry certifications, have not served as effective on-ramps to employment for Black and African Americans, particularly in high-demand jobs like technology and health care.

1890 Universities Foundation – The 1890 Universities Foundation supports the U.S. 1890 land-grant universities — HBCUs established through the Morrill Land Grant Act of 1890 with a focus on agriculture and technology. The investment will build staff capacity to prepare students for careers in fields such as agriculture, healthcare and technology via four Centers of Excellence across the 19 institutions. The 1890 Foundation will also develop a broadband strategy to meet the needs of the universities.

CodePath – CodePath (which aims to increase diversity in tech by transforming college computer science education) will partner with the 1890 Universities Foundation to serve more HBCUs with an initial expansion of CodePath’s computer science and technology courses to five of the 19 universities. With this support, CodePath will also expand its mentorship, technical interview practice and pre-internship services for students. This investment aims to help strengthen the pathways for Black and African American students between college and in-demand careers in fields such as technology.

More information about the Center for Racial Equity grants can be found here.

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