U.S. Chamber of Commerce Partners with Howard University to Develop More Business Leaders of Color

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C., has launched a new collaboration with Howard University called the Next-Gen Business Partnership. Its goal is to increase opportunities for African American students and cultivate a new generation of business leaders. 

The partnership has four parts; one is a paid summer internship program in which students from Howard are assigned to various divisions within the Chamber of Commerce, such as Health Care Policy, Congressional Affairs, Corporate Social Responsibility, or International Affairs. Interns participate in a comprehensive immersion experience, studying a wide variety of issues affecting business and industry. According to Rick Wade, vice president of strategic alliances and outreach for the chamber, “They engage in … researching policy issues, preparing briefings, leading special projects, and participating in strategy meetings.” This summer, seven interns took part in the program.

A second focus of the partnership is a faculty administration research initiative, scheduled to begin in the summer of 2019. Through this effort, a select group of Howard faculty will be able to conduct research at the chamber in areas such as international trade, tax policy, health policy, and more. 

Third, the Chamber of Commerce is working to develop an executive speaker series at Howard through which diverse business leaders and industry executives will share their expertise with students via public lectures and discussion forums. 

The final component of the initiative, currently in development, involves the creation of a National Innovation and Entrepreneurship Strategy and Program that aims to increase the number of entrepreneurs from underrepresented populations in the U.S.

With much of the partnership underway, chamber leaders are already making plans to grow the initiative. “The initial partnership is with Howard,” says Wade, “but our goal is to expand this [program] to other HBCUs and Minority-Serving Institutions in the years to come.”

Ginger O’Donnell is a staff writer for INSIGHT Into Diversity. This article ran in our 2018 October issue.