Altria grant establishes FIU Business program to promote diversity and inclusion

 03-05-2021  Ellen Forman

As part of its ongoing effort to combat structural racism, FIU Business has been awarded a $100,000 grant from Altria to establish a unique multi-platform program designed to train more inclusive leaders and further the goals of diversity and justice.

The three-part project strives to open a conversation and programmatically address challenges of inclusion and equity through financial support, academic coursework and purpose-driven dialogue.

The grant, running through summer 2021, will fund:

  • The Altria “Real Talk” Series, bringing together Altria team members and FIU Business students for a series of conversations on structural racism, with the goal of developing a more just, inclusive workforce,
  • A pilot program for development and implementation of a diversity micro-credential by FIU Business faculty members over a one year period, with the potential for expansion to alumni and the wider local business community,
  • A scholarship for FIU Business students engaged in the advancement of diversity and inclusion through coursework and activity.

The work will serve to expand some of the college initiatives created in the aftermath of Black Lives Matter protests this summer, including the three-part Conversations on Race and Equity and the appointments of Diversity Student Ambassadors at FIU Business. At FIU, the nation’s largest minority serving institution, these efforts are part of a movement to expand opportunities and amplify voices of black community members who have often gone unheard in the past.

Danielle Mackie, associate manager, recruiting at Altria Group Distribution Company, who led the company’s role in shaping the grant said, “We at Altria saw an opportunity to partner with an innovative, forward thinking, diverse university on how we can co-create content that will help build the workforce of the future. This grant will enable students to share their experiences and perspectives and have access to opportunities they otherwise would not have.”

Through the partnership between Altria and FIU Business, Mackie added, “we will be able to permeate the current workforce environment with leaders who are empathetic, understand and appreciate diversity, and can engage in a way that will truly transform the places where we live and work.”

As part of the new initiative, Altria executives will serve as individual business coaches, challenging students to “dream bigger” and teaching them how to enhance their career paths and navigate their corporate journey.

The micro-credential is being developed by Kisha Jones and Brooke Buckman, faculty members in the Department of Global Leadership and Management, who have been involved in multiple college efforts focusing on diversity and inclusion. Pieces of the four-part module will be integrated into the curriculum for the college’s Management major.

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