Published March 30, 2021 by Take on Race

Take On Race and INROADS: Intern equity is a key

College internship programs are a proven way to improve employability and launch individual careers: employers overwhelmingly prefer to hire students with intern experience, and students confirm that being an intern positively impacted their job readiness.

Unfortunately, traditional unpaid internship programs “reinforce the racial wealth gap”. The ability to accept unpaid work overwhelmingly privileges students from families with significant household wealth who can afford to work for free: the net worth for white families for the last thirty years has been between $115,000 and $200,000, compared to black families, whose household net worth has hovered between $15,000 to $25,000. Not having a financial safety net precludes students of color from being able to accept unpaid work during college.

What should be a door opener becomes an unfortunate gatekeeping mechanism that prevents talented students of color from accessing valuable professional training, mentoring, and networks, which leads to inequity in labor market outcome and perpetuates lowered net worth in communities of color.

To dismantle the gate, intern equity holds the key.

Take on Race—a coalition of like-minded companies committed to the progress in and sustainability of racial equity within and beyond corporate America—is partnering with INROADS to support and scale their work in creating intern equity. The INROADS internship program removes barriers for students of color to gain vital work experience as paid interns. To develop future industry leaders, INROADS successfully connects student interns with mentors, trainers, and coaches. By the program's end, 82% of graduating college seniors who are offered positions convert into full-time employees with their sponsor companies.

The key to INROADS’ success is their holistic approach that includes high-touch programming. INROADS continues to provide graduates of the program with networking and professional development opportunities focused on career advancement.

The INROADS model in turn enables alumni to contribute to asset building in their communities. Leading up to their 50th anniversary, INROADS commissioned a study conducted by Fulbright scholar, Adam Davids. This study compared the wealth performance of INROADS alumni to that of their white counterparts and found significant results.

A key finding: INROADS alumni's homeownership rate exceeded the rate for White families—76% to 71.3%, respectively (2019).

In contrast, the national homeownership rates for Black and Hispanic families averages 41% and 45.6% (respectively). INROADS alumni could also invest back into their communities, buying and investing in properties and developing new businesses. When we use our resources to ensure intern equity, we make colossal and definitive strides in closing the racial wealth gap.

Through Take on Race, we catalyze these strides at scale. We partner with community leaders, like INROADS, who already use best practices and proven, scalable and sustainable solutions to address equity gaps in six key disruptors—employment, wealth, health care, education, social justice, and accurate media portrayals.

With Take on Race, INROADS leverages our platform to promote its profound impact and scale to bring $755 billion in black wealth closer and closer within reach.

For every disrupter that Take on Race tackles, there are proven solutions that we can amplify through the Take on Race platform.

For INROADS, “if the whole black population of America owned homes at the same rates as INROADS Alumni, it would equate to $755 billion in black wealth.”

To create lasting change within each disruptor, we must work within communities of color, providing scalable programs that transform their lived experiences and empower them to imagine, and step into, a different tomorrow.

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