"One of those areas was outreach to the minority community in the form of educational programs, research and diversity training," comments John Reynolds, president of the IFA Educational Foundation. In particular, three companies stepped forward to create special programs. "At the end of the day, we reached our goal and had roughly $600,000 devoted to minority development," Reynolds continues. "We realized that we'd tapped a vein among companies that recognized that there is much to be done in this area."
Among the projects are:
A grant of $250,000 from the softdrink company is currently funding a multi-faceted initiative that is studying companies that have minority outreach programs in place to identify best practices, and providing scholarships to African American, Hispanic, Asian and Native American students looking to pursue careers in franchising. Instituting educational programs at the high school and college level that include instruction, field trips and projects focused on franchising is also a key component of the grant.
The research project is currently underway, scholarship notices have been issued and pilot programs are being conducted at the high school level in conjunction with Distributive Education Clubs of America and with Students in Free Enterprise, a collegiate educational program for future entrepreneurs and business leaders.
An equally generous contribution came to the IFA from Coca-Cola for the purpose of establishing a Diversity Training Institute geared to the franchise executive. The institute will provide virtual on-line training programs as well as actual regional seminars, collateral materials, an awards program and more. Many IFA members have already enrolled in Diversity Today, Inclusive Organizations Tomorrow, a one-day seminar presented by diversity expert Mauricio Velasquez, president of the Diversity Training Group.
In addition to a series of such seminars conducted around the country, the Institute will conduct research to discover best practices and case studies and make results known in a resource kit available to IFA members. Next year, as training and awareness continues the institute will also recognize, in an awards program, those companies that have distinguished themselves in this vital area.
A $150,000 grant from Marriott International will enable minority college students and adults enrolled in programs that will benefit their future in franchising to receive tuition assistance. Students can already apply for scholarships through this on-going program.
Developing Lasting and Mutually Beneficial Relationships
Thirteen years ago, the IFA and its members recognized that the future franchise growth would depend upon an awareness of ethnic markets and an understanding of diversity issues. As a result, the association created a staff position dedicated to doing precisely that.
Recently, Sonya Brathwaite was appointed as director of diversity and emerging markets within the U.S. Her charge is to inform the public about the opportunities in franchising for employment as well as franchise ownership. At the same time, she will serve as a resource for members as they expand their traditional horizons and welcome new members to their franchise families.
A Ladder for Success
In the early 1990s, the IFA also developed the Minorities in Franchising Committee. In 2001, Leon Oldham was appointed its chair. Today the Atlanta-based former AFC Enterprises special assistant to the CEO and director of minority affairs is orchestrating a number of programs designed to promote awareness of franchise opportunities within minority communities.
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