The University of Washington Brotherhood Initiative (BI) will receive $80,000 over two years ($40,000 per year) from American Family Insurance to support the first two years of the cohort-based program’s Social Change Challenge, an effort that uses a business plan competition model designed to incubate and co-create ideas for the public good created by the Foster School of Business.
“Since our first cohort launched, I envisioned the Brotherhood Initiative as a movement bridging the achievement and opportunity gap for men of color,” says Dr. Joe Lott, faculty director of the BI. “Our students’ leadership through the Social Change Challenge is another way that we’re building pathways for men of color at the UW to explore and engage in academic and civic opportunities that equip them with experiences and skills to succeed now and beyond graduation.”
Since its founding in 2016, the BI has provided opportunities for academic growth and leadership, exploration of intersecting identities and support to underrepresented men of color at the UW. Originating in the College of Education under the leadership of Dr. Lott, the BI spans across majors and disciplines and cultivates a strong community of BIPOC student scholars that offer each other support, encouragement and validation — all critical components for the success of students of color at the state’s flagship university, which has a student population that remains predominately white. The BI cohort experience, including program curriculum and mentorship, spans each student’s entire journey at the UW — empowering undergraduate men of color to thrive on campus and graduate prepared for a lifetime of leadership, service and success.
“American Family is committed to stronger communities for all and has pledged $105 million over five years to further our already deep commitment to closing racial equity gaps and affecting social impact and positive change,” said Steve Amundson, American Family’s senior manager for strategic partnerships. “Our university partnerships, like this one with University of Washington’s Brotherhood Initiative Social Change Challenge, support this commitment and we’re pleased to assist in this program’s goal of advancing equity in education.”
This partnership with American Family Insurance supports the BI’s efforts to thoughtfully conceptualize its students’ experiences in the Social Change Challenge, with particular attention on matching students’ civic interests with opportunities that will meaningfully deepen their knowledge and confidence in their ability to make an impact. Students form teams and are paired with community leaders in different areas, providing experiential opportunities for the former to learn entrepreneurial practices and co-create innovative solutions to social challenges. Indeed, an intended outcome of the Social Change Challenge is to empower students as agents of change through unique, experiential opportunities that marry business and civic-minded principles to support their engagement of the social challenges of our times.
“We’re spending time thoughtfully building out the specifics of the BI’s involvement in the Social Change Challenge,” says Dr. Lott. “During the autumn quarter, we exposed students to everything in the Social Change Challenge space and based on their interests, they formed teams that were paired with mentors and selected projects — like climate change, poverty, housing and food insecurity, or health inequities — to focus their efforts on. Our students are off to a promising start and we’re looking forward to making an impact in our community through this important initiative.”
To learn more about the BI, including opportunities to engage with the program, please contact Dr. Joe Lott at firstname.lastname@example.org. For information about supporting the BI, please contact Associate Director for Advancement Maya Trachtenberg at email@example.com.
Charleen Wilcox, Director for Marketing & Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org