Northeastern University partners with the United Negro College Fund to increase representation of Black talent in financial services, life sciences sectors

Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

Northeastern University and the United Negro College Fund are teaming up to address the historic, systemic exclusion of Black talent and experience in key industries across the country.

The two institutions will work together to create new pathways for students from historically Black colleges and universities across the U.S. into the financial services and life science sectors in Boston—two of the city’s largest job markets.

“This partnership advances a core mission of Northeastern: to build a more diverse and inclusive society by expanding learning opportunities in the fields that power our global innovation economy,” said Joseph E. Aoun, president of Northeastern. “We are thrilled to work with the UNCF in designing and implementing this exciting new program.”

Leveraging its broad network of industry partners, Northeastern will host more than 50 students on its Boston campus this summer, where they’ll have access to hands-on, experiential learning opportunities including paid internships at a number of area organizations, such Boston’s Children Hospital, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Citizens Bank, and JP Morgan Chase, among others.

Northeastern and UNCF will each contribute to cover the cost of housing and other living expenses for the students while they gain professional work experience during the 10-week “Lighted Pathways” program, says Karl Reid, senior vice provost and chief inclusion officer at Northeastern.

“The goal is to build strategic pipelines for these students through the program,” Reid said. “And we think that this is the beginning of a broader partnership.”

Karl Reid, chief inclusion officer at Northeastern University. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

The university will host 55 students in its inaugural cohort. The program was born out of Northeastern’s comprehensive action plan to combat racism, support its students, and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion.

A number of Boston-based companies, including Breckinridge Capital Advisors, Fidelity Investments, Cambridge Associates, Forester Capital, GMO, and Income Research + Management, among others, will hire students to work in their respective fields.

Once the students complete their internships, they’ll have opportunities to continue their education and work toward a degree in their fields at the D’Amore-McKim School of Business and the College of Science at Northeastern.

The partnership will explore several opportunities for students in the program, including fast-track admissions to Northeastern’s biotech and other master’s programs, and paths to pursue admission to more advanced programs, including doctoral degrees.

“Such novel programs will build upon our track record of creatively opening new educational pathways and expanding professional opportunities for students from a broad range of backgrounds and identities,” Northeastern administrators wrote in their proposal.

Diego Aviles, northeastern regional vice president of development for the UNCF, said he’s thankful Northeastern is collaborating in this “heroic effort,” and noted that there is a “dire need for Black and diverse talent in the financial services and life sciences” sectors. He said UNCF is working with Northeastern administrators to ensure the students feel at home when they arrive in Boston by connecting the scholars to “some of the pillars of the African American community.”

The Northeastern administrators said they hope the strategic relationship will help “diversify key industry sectors and widen the pipeline for future faculty and researchers of color.”

“Going forward, after this important inaugural year, Northeastern would welcome the opportunity to host scholars for research opportunities on campus, in conjunction with industry partners,” they wrote.

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