AT&T’s Dream In Black Rising Future Makers Program Gives HBCU Student Athletes A Chance To Grow On And Off the Court

AT&T’s Dream In Black Rising Future Makers Program Gives HBCU Student Athletes A Chance To Grow On And Off the Court

While HBCUs produce some of the most accomplished athletes of our time, they often have limited access to resources and lack visibility, Forbes revealed HBCU student athletes face unique challenges in their pursuit of success.

Many HBCU student athletes encounter obstacles that inhibit their professional and personal progress including limited media coverage and recruiting difficulties. However, the pressure to maintain their athletic and academic prowess is one of the biggest.

In response to these problems, AT&T has launched an initiative in hopes of alleviating these difficulties. AT&T’s Rising Future Makers has established a student-athlete industry shadow trip program. Introduced in 2022, this program invites a select group of student athletes from HBCUs with an interest in the sports and entertainment industries to special events. The program’s partners are NC A&T, FAMU, and Howard University and events include NCAA Men’s Final Four, Tribeca Festival and College Football Playoffs. 

Students are offered the opportunity to witness firsthand how the industry works and to speak with professionals in the fields of entertainment, marketing, and technology. 

In 2023, six students apart of this program were able to meet industry leaders during the 2023 NCAA Men’s Final Four and HBCU All-Star Game Weekend in Houston. Students met with executives and leading professionals from corporate giants including AT&T, NCAA, CBS, Warner Brothers Discovery and Wasserman.

AT&T’s chief diversity officer Michelle Jordan leads all DE&I initiatives across the company. Jordan spoke about her plans to enhance and accelerate the company’s initiatives to promote inclusivity and to incorporate diversity. “We wanted to make sure that we committed to investing in students in the community,” Jordan told Forbes.

The Dream in Black Rising Future Makers Program is not the first community building initiative AT&T has spearheaded. Apparently, the company has been in the business of partnering and sharing resources  for about 53 years, Madamenoire reported.

Eyana Dixon, a track and field athlete at Florida A&M University and a junior business administration student, opened up about the feelings of pressure she’s struggled with having to represent HBCUs. 

“Although I do feel pressure I know that I’ve been prepared by FAMU. Specifically the school of business, has molded me into not only a woman but a scholar. I’m built to take on challenges, that are thrown at me,” said Dixon to Forbes.

Kendall Smith, who is a junior volleyball player and finance student at Howard University, also expressed his feelings. “Some days I’m tired. As an athlete, there’s networking and business opportunities that you have to engage with, and to be honest a lot of times we want to sleep. I think what keeps me going and keeps me driven is remembering the position I’m in,” said Smith. 

Many student athletes are interested in building careers and lives that don’t only center on their skills on the court but also their intellect and passion and drive. That is exactly what AT&T’s initiative plans to help them do. Beyond offering career development training, the Rising Future Makers initiative also awards $5,000 to 25 HBCU students to invest in their endeavors, whether it be entrepreneurial or charitable. Student athletes are more than what they can offer on their teams and, with this initiative, AT&T is leveling the playing field.

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