Fordham University, Gabelli School of Business
Corporate Communications Pipeline (CCP) Program
The CCP Program diversifies the Gabelli School's undergraduate population by identifying top Black and Latinx recruits from New York City. The program also fosters deep relationships between current students and prospective students from underrepresented groups.
Call to Action
Many business colleges aspire to recruit more students that are Black, Indigenous, and persons of color (BIPOC), with competitive academic backgrounds. Yet, at many business colleges, there is a lack of critical mass regarding BIPOC students. With this in mind, the Gabelli School of Business (GSB) started the Corporate Communications Pipeline (CCP) Program in 2018.
The program recruits BIPOC students from the New York City community in an effort to further diversify our undergraduate student population. Beyond demographic diversity, CCP is an equity program. We want all of our incoming students to be well-prepared for the business classroom, yet it’s possible that some BIPOC and first-generation students are less aware of business disciplines, industries, and careers when they enroll. This can create a chasm between most of our students and our BIPOC and first-generation students concerning their levels of prior business knowledge. Thus, to balance the prior knowledge scale for all students, the CCP Program exposes BIPOC high schoolers to a full semester of business college curriculum, such as marketing, strategy, operations, finance, and communications, through a pitch proposal capstone project.
CCP is also a community-engaged learning initiative that fosters meaningful relationships between current students and prospective students of color. Current GSB students are instructional leads and capstone project mentors in the program. Current students serve an average of 15 hours per semester in community schools helping us to recruit top BIPOC talent. Based on the student’s reflection papers, they leave the program feeling more knowledgeable about the BIPOC community, having more respect for all cultures, and looking forward to continuing relationships with BIPOC-admitted students from the CCP program.
As a Jesuit business college, GSB works primarily with a community serving Catholic schools in the Bronx and Harlem, and very few public schools. The program begins during the second half of the fall semester and runs through the spring. We work directly with college counselors, honors program directors, and assistant principals at the high schools to find top academic talent.
Academically gifted high school participants are placed in peer teams, and then attend CCP class once a week as an after-school program. Each high school team is assigned a Fortune 500 company with a recent DEI-related PR crisis. Students are responsible for researching the firm’s 10-K report, C-suite and board of directors, breadth and scope of operations, DEI corporate strategy, products, goods, and services. Each team must identify a problem, solution, marketing strategy, financial breakdown/revenue projections, and an implementation strategy for their proposed idea. The team's proposed solution must increase the sense of belonging for the firm’s customers or employees, or drive revenue. Of course, there is a heavy emphasis on advanced public speaking and the structure of corporate boardroom presentations.
In the spring, there is a pitch proposal competition with cash prizes for first-, second-, and third-place teams. Teams deliver advanced and competitive 10- to 12-minute presentations with high-level pitch decks. Current GSB students are trained by our faculty to be curriculum instructors and they lead the high schoolers through the curriculum. GSB students are also assigned as project mentors—two per team—and they attend weekly CCP class with their assigned team.
This program has moved the needle on improving climate, fostering a sense of belonging, and diversifying our student body. We want our students to have deep relationships with one another and to understand more about the richness and variety cultures in the community that surrounds Fordham.
Based on CCP Program feedback, current students report having deeper respect for students from communities of color through their mentoring efforts. Many current students exchange numbers with the high schoolers and are consulted on a variety of questions concerning college, internships, and careers. Current students also report an increase in business learning as they reinforce their own studies by introducing high schoolers to collegiate business curriculum.
For prospective BIPOC students, we’ve also had great impact: To date, we have a 100 percent college acceptance rate in the program. Although many program participants go on to other colleges, we have helped 13 BIPOC students enroll at the Gabelli School or Fordham University. In addition to admissions support, we started a BIPOC full-need scholarship account, funded by diverse alumni, to help CCP-admitted students. The program has historically recruited high school seniors but has switched to working primarily with juniors. We are piloting part two this fall for seniors who were CCP juniors last year to provide test prep, college essay writing, college access, and admissions support. We anticipate that CCP part two will increase admissions support for prospective BIPOC students.