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FedEx partners with HBCUs to increase the pipeline of Black supply chain professionals

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Boxes containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are prepared to be shipped at the McKesson distribution center in Olive Branch, Mississippi, U.S. December 20, 2020.
Paul Sancya | Reuters

FedEx said Tuesday it’s partnering with eight historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to build a pipeline of logistics and supply chain professionals.

The Memphis, Tennessee, shipping giant is launching the Student Ambassador Program on March 1 at Mississippi Valley State University, Jackson State University, Fayetteville State University, LeMoyne-Owen College, Lane College, Tennessee State University, Paul Quinn College and Miles College.

FedEx President and Chief Operating Officer Raj Subramaniam said it’s part of an ongoing commitment to HBCUs, including a $5 million donation in 2021.

“Our relationship with HBCUs began more than 20 years ago, and we are continuously working to develop initiatives and opportunities that create positive outcomes for students and faculty. The Student Ambassador Program is yet another way we are continuing to invest in these historical institutions as we build a better future, together,” Subramaniam told CNBC.

The inaugural class of 16 students will meet regularly with FedEx executives for insight, career guidance and mentorship. While logistics will be a part of the curriculum, FedEx said the broader focus will be to educate the students for careers after college.

Mississippi Valley State sophomore Zapouria Wadley is majoring in communications but sees the program as an opportunity to learn how to navigate the corporate world.

“I’m just grateful for the opportunity. I’m being exposed to the world of work and seeing inside of this company,” Wadley told CNBC. “You never know what this opportunity might lead to! I’m open to learning all I can and networking as much as possible.”

Mississippi Valley State President Jerryl Briggs said the exposure to a global company like FedEx is priceless.

“We know the supply chain is booming and I do believe this is an important industry to expose our students to. But I also think the understanding of how a Fortune 500 company really works and what it has to offer, the relationship and mentorship opportunities. I think all that is important even if a student decides to go into a different area,” Briggs told CNBC.

United Parcel Service is also increasing its outreach to HBCUs. The Atlanta-based shipping giant provides financial support through its foundation for the United Negro College Fund, now known as UNCF, and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. UPS has also developed a partnership with six HBCUs for on-campus recruiting.

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