The Newark, New Jersey-based startup PeduL, recently launched its #StepUp20 Challenge, a $10 million scholarship campaign focused on linking brands to diverse talent while providing students with easier access to paid internships.
A 2019 study of the labor market reported Black employees are twice as likely to be unemployed than white employees due to systemic inequalities that has hindered Black people for years. PeduL believes the civil unrest and 'Black Lives Matter' chants that have escalated since the onset of COIVD-19, should encourage employers to address such disparities. The #StepUp20 Challenge serves to give companies access to PeduL’s talent network of nearly 5 million Black students.
"The time for lip service and performative unity from corporate America has passed," Chisa Egbelu, PeduL's CEO said. "Press releases without actionable plans are no longer enough."
John E. Harmon, Sr., the founder and CEO of the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey (AACCNJ), was among the first to sign up for the #StepUp20Challenge.
“Issues of diversity in corporate America pose a significant challenge to students of color as they apply to jobs," said Harmon. "PeduL has a solution that allows brands to cut to the chase and bring on interns and entry-level talent by recognizing the value that diversity brings to their company culture and bottom line.”
In addition to his pledge, Harmon helped PeduL receive a commitment of $10,000 from Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey.
Egbelu says the goal of PeduL is to also reach students at the nexus of their issues by funding their college tuition. The team's mission is to democratize access to education while enacting real systemic change within corporate America.
"PeduL wants to work with brands who actually care about doing the right thing," said Kayla Michele, PeduL's president.
#StepUp2020 scholarship funds will distributed before for the January 2021 semester. Companies and student looking to learn more about the #StepUp2020 challenge can visit PeduL's website.