Did you know that only 14 percent of the lowest-income students earn a bachelor’s degree within eight years of first enrolling? Unfortunately, the pandemic has created more of a rift in these statistics and put more of a spotlight on the importance of education and skill-building as the foundation of a diverse, equitable society. Thankfully, this company is actively creating opportunities for students and individuals from marginalized communities.

Premiere financial services company Synchrony and the Synchrony Foundation have announced their over $50 million investment in the next five years through the ‘Education as the Equalizer’ program. According to the official press release, the program will “expand access to higher education, skills training in high-growth fields, and financial literacy for underserved communities and its own workforce.”  

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“The pandemic has deepened economic inequality and accelerated demands for a reskilled and upskilled workforce,” said Brian Doubles, President and CEO of Synchrony, in a press release sent to ESSENCE. “We believe everyone should have access to education and skills training, which are essential for driving an inclusive recovery, growing our economy, and securing a strong financial future.”

The company’s eight employee Diversity Networks will serve as strategic advisors to help direct and support the investments and the investment includes more than $20 million in philanthropic grants from the Synchrony Foundation. The initiative harps its key focus on and across three key areas: creating pathways to complete college, building skills of the future, and closing the financial knowledge gap. The remaining apprxomiately $30 million will be allocated towards workforce training.

Furthermore, the investment will include grants from the Synchrony Foundation to create more opportunities for individuals and students from low-income or underrepresented communities, supporting underrepresented students through scholarship grants to HBCUs and non-profits like the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, and expanding training and upskilling opportunities for the company’s workforce.

“We are very excited to partner with a great company like Synchrony and truly appreciate their desire to drive change in education equity,” said Kevin James, Ph.D., North Carolina A&T State University’s Deese College dean. “Our work together will significantly enhance our students’ ability to obtain a world-class college education and prepare for high-trajectory careers.”

Furthermore, in an effort to support and provide aid for those disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Synchrony will continue to release free resources on its official website such as its “Money Matters” blog and its partnership with MILLIE Magazine published by Meredith.  This year, Synchrony will also collaborate with Marvel Studios on select partnership titles through its “Save Like a Hero” campaign to encourage smart saving.

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