Atlanta HBCUs get $90M to fuel diversity in financial field

Clark Atlanta, Morehouse and Spelman will help students build career pathways in alternative investments in 10-year partnership with three firms and Wharton School.
By: | June 17, 2021
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The alternative investment industry – which comprises assets such as real estate, cryptocurrency, hedge funds and venture capital but not cash or stocks – is expected to grow to $14 trillion by 2023. The opportunities for young business leaders are there, but are they there for everyone?

To ensure that students of color are positioned to seize on that success, three global firms are putting $90 million behind three major Historically Black Colleges and Universities and a virtual institute at Wharton College in a venture called AltFinance, a 10-year plan to improve career pathways in the field.

Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College and Spelman College – three that comprise the Atlanta University Center Consortium – will be the beneficiaries of this transformative and diversity-driven initiative led by Apollo Global Management, Inc., Ares Management Corporation and Oaktree Capital Management, L.P. and run by ALT Finance Corporation.

“As the world begins to cautiously re-open, the alternative finance industry will play a significant role in how economies recover and thrive,” said Mary Schmidt Campbell, President of Spelman. “The partnership with Spelman will provide our students with invaluable scholarships and resources that will give them a competitive edge on their road to successful careers and lives.”

Aside from the financial investments in students, the program will offer hands-on experiences through internships, education and training along with key networking opportunities.

“Working with HBCUs will allow alternative investment managers to tap into a deep talent pool that this industry has often overlooked,” said Howard Marks, Oaktree co-chairman. “Black scholars have always possessed the ambition and skill needed to succeed in alternative investing; only broad access to opportunities has been missing.”

The Wharton School, the nation’s oldest business school at the University of Pennsylvania, will operate this exclusive virtual institute featuring its highly acclaimed professors and finance leaders.

“We are proud to play an important role in the creation of AltFinance which, through its efforts to support HBCUs, will make an immediate and positive difference for students of color,” said Erika James, Dean of the Wharton School. “With a reach from pre-college students to C-suite executives, it is Wharton’s privilege to offer our world-class faculty and resources to those who are so deserving.”

The nonprofit Management Leadership for Tomorrow will add its expertise and influence in not only helping install a fellowship program but also in seeing that “Black, Hispanic/Latino and Native American people reach and thrive at the highest levels of corporate America.”

For institutions involved, the AltFinance program will have profound and far-reaching impacts beyond the courses and even those experiential lessons.

“As our graduates who are now leaders in the industry have shown, those who control financing often have an outsized impact on societal and economic outcomes,” said David Thomas, Ph.D., Morehouse College president. “As men of color intensify their roles as drivers of economic ingenuity and commercial innovation, it is imperative that they have intimate knowledge of the intricacies of complex, alternative investment strategies.

“Our partnership in the AltFinance initiative will further open doors of opportunity for Morehouse and other HBCU students to push the boundaries of the status quo and to create new avenues for equitable access to wealth-building vehicles, capital, private funds, and financial tools which will grow businesses and empower enterprising minds.”