According to a study by Howard University School of Business’ Center for Accounting Education, only four percent of all accounting graduates hired by accounting firms between 2007 and 2008 were African-Americans.
In an effort to increase the number of African-Americans in the accounting and finance fields, Point Park University recently launched the first phase of their Urban Accounting and Finance Initiative. At the launch event on June 11, parents and students from Manchester Academic Charter School were given an introduction to the year ahead of them in Point Park’s Middle School Accounting and Finance Career Exploration Initiative.
“It’s just been an amazing thing, thinking about the potential of this program,” said MACS Principal Vasilios Scoumis. “We look forward to the next six years and beyond of doing some amazing things.”
Point Park’s program will take 25 students from MACS and expose them to the many career pathways in accounting and finance. Leading the initiative is Herman Reid Jr., director of academic and economic development at Point Park, and the former executive director of the NEED.
“I don’t expect that they’re all going to go into accounting and finance, but I do expect it will give them hope,” Reid said. “I have a belief that the hope we give our youth will be the hope that carriers them to where they need to be. When we look at our communities, we see devastation. Our young people need hope.”
The Building Our Leaders Daily Career Exploring Accounting and Finance Initiative was first conceived thanks to a $1 million gift from longtime Point Park benefactors George White and Kathleen White. This funding was also used to establish an endowed professorship in accounting and finance, which was given to Professor Edward Scott, a Point Park alumnus who served as the event’s keynote speaker.
“What intrigues me the most is that every day we are engaged in activities that involve money,” Scott said. “So why aren’t the fields of finance and accounting more important in the urban community?”
Throughout his address, Scott illustrated examples of how members of the community offered him opportunities that led to his success. These examples included time spent working at the famous Downtown Honus Wagner sporting good stores, an internship at Westinghouse Electric Company, an offer to work at a top eight accounting firm, and another offer to teach at CCAC, all before he even graduated from Point Park.
“Opportunities come to you because of the actions of the community,” Scott said. “When I ask myself, what is the role of accounting and finance in the urban community, the answer is easy because I have seen that role.”
The program will begin with a three-day orientation at the end of June and a two-day business summer camp in July. For the following five months, the middle school students will be mentored by some of the city’s most influential African-American leaders in business, accounting and finance.
“My son will be part of this program. He has no choice,” said Jerome Jackson, a MACS parent and executive director of Operation Better Block. “This will just be another step for him to develop his skills and to help him one day be a business owner.”