While virtual learning has its challenges, Lincoln Foundation, in partnership with the University of Louisville College of Business, has created a truly value-added program for students. Since 1986, the two organizations have offered a summer program called Project BUILD (Business United In Leadership Development) to address the shortage of persons of color entering business fields. The summer mini MBA program introduces promising multicultural high school juniors and seniors introduces promising multicultural high school juniors and seniors to the world of business through college-level business courses in accounting, economics, finance, statistics, entrepreneurship, management, and marketing.
Lincoln Foundation and the College of Business realized the Covid-19 However, the Covid-19 pandemic created the need for schools and educational outlets to pivot to online learning. The two organizations invested many hours redesigning the traditional in-class curriculum into a challenging new online experience. The result is a virtual Project BUILD called “It’s All About Business.” The new program includes design and futuristic thinking elements to empower students with new skills to approach a challenge or solve complex problems.
Students will also engage in three live town hall meetings with community leaders, including Nikki Lanier, Sr. Vice President, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Walter Woods, CEO Humana Foundation, and Chuck Denny, Regional President, PNC Bank. The program’s overall goal is to encourage students to study business in college and pursue a career in business.
What’s in it for the students? For starters, the course is offered entirely free of charge. Participants who complete the program will earn three hours of college credit in MGMT 101 and will earn an IBM badge in Design Thinking, an important credential students may add to their resume. High school senior Yacine Diop, who is enrolled in this summer’s program, says she welcomes the changes. “Project BUILD has given us high school students a remarkable opportunity to meet with amazing business leaders in our community. Additionally, we have been given the wonderful chance to be taught by amazing professors and receive college credit for the lessons in business that our group learns. Although the pandemic has prevented the in-person sessions from occurring, the virtual town halls and online classes have been very effective alternatives because we are still able to receive insightful business knowledge from various parties. It’s such a rewarding experience and I’m so honored that I have been given the opportunity to participate!”