Industry groups launch after-school programme for disadvantaged kids

#talkaboutblack has launched The Catalyst After School Program to help tackle underrepresentation in the industry


Natasha Turner

The London Stock Exchange Market opened this morning with a ceremony to launch an after-school programme designed to give students from socio-economically disadvantaged areas an introduction to asset management.

Industry group #talkaboutblack, along with The City of London Corporation, the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment and the Diversity Project, announced the The Catalyst After School Program in order to help tackle the underrepresentation of ethnic minorities in the industry.

The first cohort of 24 year-10 students from two London state schools will start on 12 November and attend for eight weeks. Their costs will be covered by the programme’s sponsors, which include BlackRock, Fidelity International, Federated Hermes, Invesco and more.

“I grew up in inner City London and never knew the City existed, I certainly could not envisage myself working there,” said Gavin Lewis (pictured, right), managing director at BlackRock and co-founder of #talkaboutblack, speaking at the London Stock Exchange Market this morning.

“I was fortunate enough to find a way in but there is huge potential that remains untapped.”

The success of the venture will be judged by whether the students engage, and opt for further education and entry into asset management. A main outcome for students is to earn a level 2 CISI fundamentals of financial services qualification. If all goes to plan this year’s alumni will mentor next year’s cohort.

#talkaboutblack also recently launched a mentoring programme in collaboration with Investment20/20, which pairs 16 black professionals with experience of around 15 years in the industry with 16 c-suite leaders from different investment management companies.

The Catalyst After School Program also joins the likes of groups such as The Social Mobility Foundation in helping improve diversity and representation in financial services.

“Widening participation in our financial services profession for socio-economically disadvantaged students across the UK must increase at pace,” said Kevin Moore, global head of business development at the CISI. “This initiative has the impetus and cross-sectoral commitment to make that happen.”

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