Enterprise addresses hunger, diversity, social equity

ST. LOUIS – 

A new Enterprise Holdings initiative will address three social and racial equity gaps that the company says need urgent attention: early childhood development, youth health and wellness, and career and college preparation.

Through the Enterprise Holdings Foundation, Enterprise Holdings says it is boosting its focus on diversity, equity and inclusion. The company will do that through a new five-year, $55 million commitment to organizations that advance social and racial equity around the world.

The company says the new initiative, Enterprise Holdings ROAD Forward, will increase respect, opportunity, achievement and diversity — or ROAD — for youth and families.

Enterprise Holdings Foundation president Carolyn Kindle Betz said diversity, inclusion and strengthening the communities where the company operates have been part of its guiding principles for more than 60 years.

“The Enterprise Holdings ROAD Forward initiative will open new doors for individuals in our communities who are disproportionately affected by lack of access to resources in the areas of education, health and wellness,” Betz said in a news release.

The foundation, working with the Enterprise Holdings ROAD Forward initiative, is pledging an additional $65 million into Enterprise Fill Your Tank. That program started in 2016 and has contributed more than $50 million to address food insecurity in local communities. Enterprise said that issue often disproportionally affects people of color.

The company is pledging the $65 million to extend the program for five more years, and those funds will continue to be distributed annually among Feeding America, Food Banks Canada and The Global FoodBanking Network. The funding will also go toward additional local food banks and pantries in the communities Enterprise serves.

Betz said hunger is another obstacle to success for too many young people of color. The company expanded its existing Fill Your Tank commitment as a natural complement to the ROAD Forward initiative. Betz said.

“Our decision to extend Fill Your Tank and launch ROAD Forward was also inspired by our employees, who often ask the Foundation to support causes they are passionate about,” Betz said.

The company, as part of the Enterprise Holdings ROAD Forward initiative’s commitment to young people of color in underserved communities, will work with four nonprofit organizations. Those are the Obama Foundation’s My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, UNCF, Girls Inc. and Parents as Teachers.

Areas of support

The initiative, through those partnerships, could help local youth and families in areas such as early childhood development, youth health and wellness and career and college preparation.

Regarding early childhood development, with support for Parents as Teachers, the organization will be able to broaden the reach of its early childhood education programs, which could help better connect with the needs of Black, Brown and Native American children.

Top objectives of the partnership include refining its curriculum for diverse audiences, creating professional development sessions, subsidizing cultural adaptations of existing programs, translating program materials into Somali, Spanish and other languages, and underwriting new data equity research.

In the area of youth health and wellness, support for My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, or MBK, will advance its mission to build safe and supportive communities for boys and young men of color. Objectives include supporting the 19 MBK Impact and Seed Communities in documenting and disseminating best practices, lessons learned, and inspirational stories from youth and community leaders.

Launching the MBK Framework to Affect Systems Change, is another objective that could help MBK communities better define, document and increase their impact.

Also in the area of youth health and wellness, support for Girls Inc. will help continue that group’s mission to help girls grow up “strong, smart, and bold.” The support will fund work to assess and refine the organization’s social and emotional learning frameworks that address racial injustice and inequities.

Then, plans are to use education, training and mentorship through affiliate programs to put the updated framework into action.

Regarding career and college preparation, Enterprise through UNCF will support more than 70 scholarships for first-generation Black college students. According to Enterprise, that will cover often-unmet needs that can create barriers to college completion or successful career transitions. Enterprise said scholarships will support non-tuition-related student needs such as emergency expenses, stipends to support extracurricular professional development and educational loan repayment.

“We are grateful for Enterprise acting with intention to address the systemic barriers that deny dreams for far too many of our kids,” said My Brother’s Keeper Alliance executive director Michael D. Smith.

Smith continued, “Enterprise’s support will help accelerate impact in MBK Communities to reduce youth violence, grow effective mentorship programs, and measurably improve the lives of boys and young men of color.”

Parents as Teachers president and chief executive officer Constance Gully said the organization was honored to serve as Enterprise’s early childhood development partner on the ROAD Forward initiative.

“Working with parents directly during the most vulnerable stages of their child’s early development has a direct effect on reducing the educational disparities that can later result in income and health gaps,” Gully said.

Gully continued, “This generous investment in the work of Parents as Teachers will provide vital resources to reach and more effectively meet the needs of the thousands of Black, Brown, and Native American families we partner with across all 50 states.”

Girls Inc. president and chief executive officer Stephanie Hull said providing girls with social and emotional support is important to their well-being and helps them lead healthy and fulfilling lives.

“During these unprecedented times, the need is even greater, especially for girls of color and those from underserved communities,” Hull said. “We are grateful to Enterprise for their partnership and investment in the work Girls Inc. is doing to further strengthen our capacity to provide girls with the experiences and mentorship that enable them to thrive.”

UNCF president and chief executive officer Michael Lomax said that with the new scholarship program, UNCF can continue to help more students of color get into college and graduate.

“That is especially important now as we all face rising racial injustice and a health pandemic that’s affecting our communities quite severely,” Lomax said. “Thank you, Enterprise, and we look forward to working with your team to build better futures for many others.”

A ‘continuous journey’

Over the next five years, the Enterprise Holdings ROAD Forward initiative will allocate funds to its more than 70 global operating teams. That could help employees take the lead in identifying important issues related to the program’s three focus areas in their communities and supporting local organizations that are best equipped to address them.

“These actions are the next steps in what will be a continuous journey to elevate our focus on equality and diversity – and to continue breathing inclusivity in everything we do,” said Enterprise Holdings president and chief executive officer Chrissy Taylor. “It mirrors our internal efforts to advance social and racial equity within our very own walls — from our mentorship programs, to introducing new training and development and diversity councils, to forums that drive honest dialogue on these critical issues.”

Enterprise founder, Jack Taylor, started the foundation in 1982 to give back to the communities that drove Enterprise’s growth. The foundation and the Taylor family have since contributed more than $1.4 billion to local nonprofits, focusing on community improvement, education and environmental stewardship. Enterprise employees contribute their time and skills to national and local organizations in the cities and neighborhoods they serve.

More information is available about Enterprise Holdings’ philanthropic initiatives.

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