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Walmart to add to education programs

by Serenah McKay | October 22, 2021 at 1:55 a.m.
This undated file photo shows Walmart's sign in front of its Bentonville headquarters.

Walmart Inc. and Walmart.org said Thursday that they plan three new initiatives, including $5.4 million in investments, aimed at building on their work to advance equity in education.

One of these adds three leading historically black colleges and universities to the list of academic partners in Walmart's Live Better U program, which offers free educational opportunities to Walmart workers.

Employees can now enroll at Morehouse College, Spelman College or North Carolina A&T State University through Live Better U. The program fully covers tuition and books for Walmart and Sam's Club workers pursuing college degrees or professional certificates through its 16 participating institutions.

"These new partners further demonstrate our commitment to create a path for associates to learn, grow and discover their career journey," said Lorraine Stomski, senior vice president of learning and leadership at Walmart.

"As we work to become an even more diverse employer, what better way to fill the pipeline of future talent than with our own associates?" Stomski said.

The Bentonville-based retailer has seen 65,000 workers take part in Live Better U since starting it in 2018, the company said in a news release. Of those employees, 18% are Black, and Black workers who take part in the program are 88% more likely than nonparticipants to get promoted, Walmart said.

Walmart also said it has pledged $2.4 million over three years to Mississippi's Jackson State University in partnership with its athletics program. The money will support case studies; scholarships; and an executive-in-residence program in which Walmart leaders will advise faculty on curriculum and conduct mentoring circles.

The money will also go toward key athletic initiatives such as rebuilding the university's practice field.

Finally, the Walmart.org Center for Racial Equity is awarding $3 million in education grants and partnerships. The gift is part of Walmart and the Walmart Foundation's $100 million commitment announced last year to address inequity in the areas of education, health, finance and criminal justice.

The $3 million investment will support three programs: The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies; the 1890 Universities Foundation; and CodePath.

Kirstie Sims, senior director of the Walmart.org Center for Racial Equity, said these initial investments "will help us develop research on the barriers in the system, build capacity of our nation's HBCUs, and strengthen the pathways between education and in-demand careers."

Print Headline: Walmart to add to education programs

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