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As many are well aware, the importance of HBCU talent cannot be understated. Companies and organizations across the country are continuing to come to these institutions for the best exposure to young, intelligent, Black talent. 

This now includes organizations in the Community Development industry, such as the Local Initiatives Support CorporationThe organization recently launched a new internship program for students at HBCUs to help bridge the opportunity gap for students of color—offering community development mentorship and experience that gives young people a leg up when entering the workforce.

 Over the next two years, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation’s National HBCU Talent Development program is placing 40 students in part-time intern positions with Local Initiatives Support Corporation offices and other community development financial institutions. Interns will support initiatives, from marketing to finance to community engagement, while also participating in leadership and national networking events.

The Citi Foundation and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation fund the program. It is specifically designed to address national disparities in internships, with White students significantly more likely to gain paid versus unpaid positions than Black students. The Local Initiatives Support Corporation internship pays $25/hour up to $15,000 for the academic year.

“Talent is everywhere but opportunity is not. This program is a part of our work to address systemic racial barriers that keep young people from gaining the experience and the connections that they need to compete for good jobs,” said Local Initiatives Support Corporation President Denise Scott in a NewsOne exclusive. “We know a lot of folks come out of school having earned a degree and are still kind of stuck in terms of their ability to advance a career.” 

Community development financial institutions are a critical link to providing access to capital and services that communities need. They also Identify sources of capital and align capital with a community vision while empowering the community to participate in that investment. Some examples of work community development financial institutions would be executing programs in housing development, workforce development, small business capital, and building schools in communities. 

“We see it as a win-win for us because the community development industry specifically has a dearth of talent, and we have concerns about the future of community development looking for young leaders with all kinds of different skill sets to step into this industry,” Scott continued. “There’s so many points of entry and opportunities for growth, and many young folks in school wouldn’t necessarily know about community development without some more intentional introduction.”

The community development sector is arguably one of the most important industries that young Black students should take part in. No one truly understands the challenges and the needs of the communities that need serving more than the most impacted individuals. 

“These young folks may not understand how valuable their perspectives are. They connect to many of the communities that we are working in. Some of them are born and raised in these communities or just that they have a perspective about equity that is refreshing,” Scott stated. “So they are coming to the table with a voice about what their expectations are for the future all of which we should be building into how we think about community development. It’s a somewhat missing voice.” 

In an age where diversity and diversity of thought can be so impactful to changing lives, this initiative could truly open a door to catalyze change in the communities that need it most by providing opportunities to the students who need them most. 

“Their really voices matter in a lot of ways,” said Scott. “We’ll all learn something from their lived experience.” 


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