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A WGVU initiative in partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation using on-air programs and community events to explore issues of inclusion and equity.

'Building Bridges Through Education' fellowship opens application process for Latinx students

 Audio File The West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce opens its 'Building Bridges Through Education' fellowship application process.
West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

The West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has opened the application process for its Building Bridges Through Education (BBTE) fellowship. The program, which launched in 2019, acts as an early career placement for Latinx college students where they can grow in their identity and asset development.

"There is a myth or mental model that Latinx talent does exist, and often we hear of companies recruiting for talent outside of Michigan," Jessica Ledesma, the BBTE program manager, said "...We come with a different background. We come with a different gift that we’re given by our double culture and often dual language background that weren't developed in school.”

The fellowship is free to participate in and runs two semesters long with a choice of four categories: Nursing, Business and Stem, Health Professions and Public and Social Sector. Daniel Rivera, Lead Success Navigator, notes there is a commitment of at least 20 service hours per semester to be spent on program initiatives.

"We strengthen areas in their networking their leadership, expanding their network not just with industry partners but with Latinx talent all over Michigan," he said.

This year, the BBTE will extend fellowships to up to 40 individuals, an increase from the 35 selected last year.  First-year students are encouraged to apply. The deadline to apply is May 16, 2021 at 5pm.

Ledesma said this is an opportunity to build a diverse workforce and help combat the systemic disparities that Latinx workers face in the workplace.

"We know the business case for diversity. We know the bottom line increases when you have diverse teams, and a lot of companies have prioritized diversity and equity and inclusion, but many of them starting where they’re at are still trying to figure out 'how do we connect that?' That's where we come in," she said.

More information on the BBTE fellowship can be found, here.

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