Hennessy is investing in the next generation of Black leaders. According to Diverse Issues in Higher Education, the cognac brand is joining forces with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund for the creation of a graduate fellowship program designed for students at historically Black colleges and universities.
Through the program—which is dubbed Hennessy Fellows—students will have the opportunity to take advantage of career development and mentorship to prepare themselves for executive-level roles at some of the nation’s leading companies. They will also have financial assistance to further their education; receiving up to $20,000 each year to cover tuition and an additional $10,000 stipend. The students will also be able to compete for a $10,000 grant for a community-focused project. Each year, 10 individuals will be selected to participate in the program. Hennessy has pledged to donate $10 million for the Hennessy Fellows initiative.
The program was created to address the underrepresentation of Black executives on corporate boards and the lack of scholarship opportunities that are available for graduate students. Leaders at Hennessy and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund hope that this program will be instrumental in bridging those gaps. “Continuing a heritage of support and celebration of the African American community that began over one hundred years ago, Hennessy is excited to partner with TMCF to help ensure more diversity in leadership roles,” Giles Woodyer, Senior Vice President, Hennessy US, said in a statement. “The immediate goal of the Hennessy Fellows program is to create a pipeline of highly qualified talent over the next 10 years and help prepare these future leaders for success.” President and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund Dr. Harry L. Williams told Black Enterprise that this initiative shows that HBCUs have value and are worth investing in.
Applications for the fellowship are being accepted through May 5 and the fellows will be announced in June. News about the Hennessy Fellows initiative comes weeks after TMCF teamed up with Detroit-bred rapper Big Sean for a competition called Moguls in the Making which was created to prepare HBCU students for entrepreneurship.