Gateway to Leadership Program Encourages Minorities to Consider Careers in Finance

The country’s demographics are shifting and the nation is becoming more multiracial and multiethnic; and yet, minorities remain significantly underrepresented in the finance industry, one of the country’s most lucrative and fastest growing sectors. In 2009, according to a board survey, 93 percent of certified financial planners were white. The lack of diversity in the finance industry can, in part, be attributed to minority groups being historically excluded from financial services. Consequentially, many minorities are not familiar with career paths in the industry, how to access them nor how their presence in the boardrooms of Wall Street can ultimately benefit their communities.

The Gateway to Leadership is designed to address this disconnect by recruiting and creating a diverse pipeline of talent to ultimately increase minority representation in Wall Street firms. In 2006, the NAACP partnered with the Money Management Institute (MMI) to provide minority students, predominately from historically black colleges and universities (HBCUS), with meaningful work experience and exposure to the financial service industry. This program strives to improve the diversity and inclusion initiatives of financial firms by providing them with a pool of qualified minority candidates to consider in their recruitment, training and advancement efforts.

Gateway to Leadership is a ten week paid summer internship program for junior undergraduates attending HBCU’s, but students at non-HBCU’s are also encouraged to apply.  Interns are given a meaningful work experience that will enhance their knowledge and passion for the industry.  Interns are placed at the leading finance and investment companies in the nation including, Morgan Stanley, Prudential, and Charles Schwab to name of few. The work experience varies from asset management, research, managed accounts, trading, capital markets, sales and marketing and finance and accounting. Emmanuel Bridgeforth, a 2009 Gateway to Leadership participant and Morgan Stanley intern, states that “[This internship provides you with a great opportunity to] ...learn about yourself, learn about the business and build relationships.”

Applications for the summer of 2012 are due by December 15, 2011.  The application can be found on NAACP’s economic department website at on the About Us: Internships page.  Once a student has completed the application process and has met all the criteria, a telephone interview will be scheduled.  Final decisions on the internship will be awarded in January.

Dawn Chase, NAACP Manager of Diversity and Inclusion, can be contacted at with any questions about the Gateway to Leadership Program.

2009 Gateway to Leadership Program Interns