Racial Equity Program Provides $8,000 Scholarships for 24 High School Seniors Learning About Investing

On Saturday (May 13), 24 high school students will graduate from the Economic Equity and Financial Education Pilot Program, a two-semester advanced financial education course taught at the Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley. The program was created and funded by Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and The PG&E Corporation Foundation (The PG&E Foundation).

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PRNewsfoto/Pacific Gas and Electric Company)

The student graduates successfully completed a rigorous academic program that began last fall. Each will be awarded college scholarships of $8,000. All of the students have been accepted to college, and some have been accepted to the University of California, Berkeley.

Last year, in an effort to address wealth inequality and the racial wealth gap affecting African Americans in particular, PG&E and The PG&E Foundation partnered with the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley and Berkeley Executive Education, Mills College at Northeastern University, and Amenti Capital Group to prepare African American high school students from Oakland and the Greater Bay Area for future financial success and academic leadership. The pilot supports PG&E and The PG&E Foundation’s Better Together Giving Program dedicated to bolstering people, the planet, and California’s prosperity, and ensuring a safe and inclusive future for all.

Otis Ward, a senior at McClymonds High School in Oakland, is one of the students to complete the program, receive a scholarship and earn acceptance to UC Berkeley.

“Opportunities such as the PG&E scholarship are essential, especially for Black Oakland students that are underserved within our community. I’m really excited to have completed this program as it can be a stepping stone for fellow young Black youth from my West Oakland community who are striving for post-secondary education, just like myself,” said Ward, one of the 24 program graduates.

PG&E created the program after two years of planning as a racial justice initiative following the George Floyd tragedy to help address economic challenges faced by African Americans, and together with The PG&E Foundation provided $500,000 in funding through its community charitable Better Together Giving Program.  

Students took courses taught by Berkeley Haas professors Panos Patatoukas and Sunil Dutta and financial industry professionals on topics including personal finance, capital markets and wealth creation, financial data analysis and investments. African American Haas undergraduates also mentored the high schoolers.

Mills College at Northeastern University TRIO Programs recruited the student participants as part of the Upward Bound program — which helps underserved high school students and first in their families attending college to succeed — and the Mills Educational Talent Search — which supports high school students achieving their higher education goals.

The curriculum was developed in collaboration with Patatoukas and Jason Miles, an African American venture capitalist with more than 25 years of experience in the financial services industry and founder of Amenti Capital Group.

“Mitigating the problem of access inequality and addressing the wealth gap in the African American community has been the driving force of our joint efforts with PG&E and The PG&E Foundation,” Patatoukas said. “We are excited to make financial education more accessible, and we are committed to continue to foster diverse, equitable, and inclusive learning environments. I look forward to congratulating this first graduating class of Oakland and Bay Area students from this impactful program.”

“There is a tremendous pool of talented students who represent shining examples of future African American leaders. They must be empowered with practical investing tools and knowledge about risk-return trade-offs early in their lives. We are energized by this unique opportunity to catalyze generational wealth creation alongside like-minded partners and this first graduating class of students,” said Miles.

According to the Disparities in Wealth by Race and Ethnicity 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances, the typical white family has eight times the wealth of a typical Black family. The survey cites a number of complex societal factors across generations, including how individual savings and investment decisions contribute to wealth accumulation.

“It’s truly rewarding to know these students have gained this critical knowledge because this type of information is needed to help them achieve economic parity. We are conscious of how the racial wealth gap contributes to inequality, and we know that the educational opportunities this program provides will be a significant catalyst to helping them to create generational wealth. We congratulate this inaugural class of high school students, and we are excited to support them with their future academic pursuits,” said Jimi Harris, PG&E Community Relations Chief and program creator.

The program is designed to provide wealth creation tools through an advanced financial education curriculum for high school students, and also to support post-secondary education achievement through scholarships for participants, funded by PG&E. The program can serve as a model for future high school education curriculum.

About PG&E 
Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is a combined natural gas and electric utility serving more than 16 million people across 70,000 square miles in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit www.pge.com/ and http://www.pge.com/about/newsroom/.

About the Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley 
As the second-oldest business school in the United States, Berkeley Haas has been questioning the status quo since its founding in 1898. Berkeley Haas offers outstanding management education to about 2,500 undergraduate and graduate students from around the world to attend one of its six degree-granting programs and join the school’s network of 41,000 alumni worldwide.

About Berkeley Executive Education 
UC Berkeley Executive Education serves leaders and organizations who aspire to redefine the future of business, delivering over 150 programs annually to a global audience. Its immersive learning experiences, led by renowned UC Berkeley faculty, equip global executives and their organizations with the vision and capabilities to thrive in an evolving world.

About Northeastern University 
Founded in 1898, Northeastern is a global research university and the recognized leader in experience-driven lifelong learning. Our world-renowned experiential approach empowers our students, faculty, alumni, and partners to create impact far beyond the confines of discipline, degree, and campus.

Northeastern’s comprehensive array of undergraduate and graduate programs—on-campus, online, and in hybrid formats—lead to degrees through the doctorate in nine colleges and schools. Among these, we offer more than 140 multi-discipline majors and degrees designed to prepare students for purposeful lives and careers.

About Amenti Capital Group 
Amenti Capital Group is an emerging merchant bank that provides independent advisory services and venture capital to early-stage technology companies in high growth ecosystems. We leverage deep industry knowledge, operational expertise, and longstanding relationships to deliver attractive returns through our end-to-end model. We serve entrepreneurs and sophisticated investors while following our core principles of innovation, integrity and inclusion.

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