The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff announced a pledge of $500,000 over the next two years from the Synchrony Foundation as part of its new initiative to advance education equity and economic opportunity for underserved students and communities.
Headquartered in Stamford, Conn., Synchrony is a consumer financial services company.
Synchrony's Education as the Equalizer initiative expands access to higher education, skills training in high-growth fields and financial literacy. The program builds on the company's commitment to address the deeply-rooted economic and educational inequalities within communities through investment, engagement and social reform, according to a news release.
"We believe academic success secures foundations for strong community leaders who play a vital role in ensuring safe and inclusive communities for all," said UAPB Chancellor Laurence B. Alexander.
Synchrony Foundation's grant will help low-income and underrepresented students graduate college and offers guidance for future career endeavors by providing scholarships, business mentorships and internships. Students will also have access to free online financial literacy courses on topics such as saving, budgeting and student loans.
"The pandemic has deepened economic inequality and accelerated demands for a more skilled workforce," said Brian Doubles, president and chief executive officer of Synchrony. "We believe access to education and skills training are key to driving an inclusive recovery, growing our economy, and securing a strong financial future."
A core component of the Synchrony commitment is the impact on career readiness and job development. The impact of the funding will significantly grow the university's capacity to help students, according to Shirley Cherry, UAPB director of career services.
"UAPB has been a lifeline in training the next generation of students for entry into the workplace," said Cherry. "This funding allows us the stability to continue making a difference with our students."
The multiyear commitment was also viewed from the standpoint of its impact on the broader region and community, according to UAPB leadership.
"Synchrony's gift builds on the unique role Lion Nation has in Pine Bluff," said George Cotton Sr., vice chancellor of institutional advancement. "Their commitment to the university supports our student's academic outcomes and advances the economic progress for Jefferson County."
During the next five years, Synchrony will invest more than $50 million in Education as an Equalizer.
Synchrony delivers customized financing programs across key industries including retail, health, auto, travel and home, along with consumer banking products, according to www.synchrony.com.