The statistics facing young men of color from low-income communities are stark: According to the Urban Institute, this population is 20% less likely than others to graduate high school and only half as likely to earn an undergraduate degree. Those disparities continue in the world of work, as Black and Latinx men earn 66% and 72%, respectively, of what white men make, according to the JPMorgan Chase Institute.
The data around JPMorgan Chase’s The Fellowship Initiative, an academic support and mentorship program for Black and Latinx young men, tell a much different story. For instance, in the past 10 years, graduating fellows have earned a 100% college-acceptance rate and half are first-generation college students. More than 350 high school students have graduated from TFI in the last decade in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and, most recently, Dallas.
Now, that number is about to dramatically expand, as JPMorgan Chase recently committed to more than tripling the number of new TFI fellows to 1,000 by 2030 and starting programs in three new cities.
“When we started TFI 10 years ago in New York, we wanted to create proof of concept–to show that, when you invest time and mentorship, as well as financial resources, in young men of color, you create the conditions for them to thrive now and in the future,” says Brian Lamb, who joined the company this spring as its global head of diversity and inclusion, a newly created position.
Among its established D&I efforts, the organization has multiple regional and line-of-business diversity functions, a global supplier-diversity program, an Office of Disability Inclusion, and advancement programs for communities that include Black, military and women stakeholders. Lamb’s new position builds upon that work, he says.
“The firm recognized a need for improved coordination and alignment across these efforts and that, most importantly, diversity needs to pull through our core business operations,” he says.
Lamb joined JPMorgan Chase from Fifth Third Bank, where he held numerous positions, including most recently head of retail banking, over the past 13 years.
“I’ve had experience leading multiple lines of business in the banking sector as well as leading corporate responsibility and reputation,” he says. “That’s given me a multidimensional perspective that I think will be invaluable as I help to steer JPMorgan Chase toward expanding on their culture to make sure it’s one where all employees and customers are treated equally and feel welcome.”
A primary component of that effort is TFI. At its core, the initiative is a leadership-development program, Lamb says. Fellows are taught critical thinking, planning and collaboration, among many other skills. And their work speaks for itself, he says: Fellow have completed community art projects that explore their unique experiences and challenges, participated in civic engagement training, met with elected officials to address community obstacles and developed product ideas like “Bro-gurt,” a breakfast food designed to appeal to young men of color.
Much of their work is fueled by their partnership with JPMorgan Chase mentors.
Employees who volunteer for the program serve as one-on-one mentors, offering academic support, leadership development, and college and career coaching. The three-year commitment has been just as enriching for the mentors as it is for the fellows, Lamb says, and that ultimately benefits the entire workplace.
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“It is an opportunity for our employees to engage with someone who might have a different lived experience or a chance to extend a hand to someone in a way that they themselves might have benefited from in the past,” he says, noting many mentors and fellows remain connected as the young professionals embark on their education and careers. “All mentors who have participated and shared feedback with us talk about building authentic relationships, learning as much from the fellows as they teach and just the joy, really, that comes from watching these young men grow and start to find their place in the world.”