UBS Americas Committing $10M to Higher Education for Men of Color

UBS Americas announced this week it was making a $10 million, five year commitment to establish a platform for improving the college success of under-resourced populations.

The commitment is to begin in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.  There will be an intensive focus on young men of color.  UBS NextGen Leaders program is aimed at empowering students with skills, knowledge,  and experience in order for them to succeed in college and compete in the global marketplace.  This, in alignment with President Barack Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative, will provide opportunities to young men of color.  UBS has had a longstanding philanthropic commitment to education.

The lead partner for this initiative will be Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO), which offers education and career programs to under-served, underrepresented communities since 1963.  SEO will recruit 100 men of color from urban high schools  and support them from 12th grade through college graduation.  This follows the SEO Scholars model.  Summer experiences and international trips will provide the students with exposure to global perspectives.  UBS Americas CEO, Bob McCann said:

 “I know firsthand the power of education and how a college degree can change your trajectory in life. It is the single most important step in the economic ladder. Yet, across our communities, young people – particularly men of color – are being denied this opportunity. We have the power to change that by providing this important population of future talent with the tools, resources and support they need to graduate college and achieve economic independence. We’ll not only change their lives for the better…but rather our entire nation’s.”

A McKinsey study recently showed that the annual GDP could increase by $525 billion, if the gap between white students and their African-American and Latino-American peers could be closed.  A report from the Brookings Institution Hamilton Project showed that over a lifetime, earnings increase dramatically for recipients of associate, and baccalaureate degrees.

The current UBS was formed when the Union Bank of Switzerland merged with the Swiss Bank Corporation. The acronym was based on the original bank’s name.  It is considered the world’s largest manager of private wealth assets.

It is the biggest bank in Switzerland, operates in more than 50 countries, and suffered among the largest losses of any European bank during the sub-prime mortgage crisis.  This required raising large amounts of outside capital with one large injection from the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation.

It was after McCann read about My Brother’s Keeper that he contacted Education Secretary Arne Duncan to discuss creating a similar project, says Julie Steinberg, writing for The Wall Street Journal.  A spokesman for USB says theirs is the first financial-services institution to make a formal commitment to Mr. Obama’s initiative. UBS employees will mentor the students.

“It seeks to even the playing field,” William Goodloe, president and chief executive of SEO, said in an interview. Mr. Goodloe said UBS NextGen Leaders would target twelfth-graders in the 2014-2015 academic school year and help them with everything from applying to college to course selection once they’re accepted.