H+K Marketing + Comms Executive Melissa Hooper sat down with Communications Associate Na’ima Jenkins to discuss the launch of the inaugural year of the Howard University H+K Stipend Award Program and Post-Grad Fellowship, including its potential impact for applicants and how it demonstrates H+K’s continued focus on Diversity + Inclusion.

What does the Howard University H+K Stipend Award Program and Post-Grad Fellowship entail?

The scholarship entails a $5,000 stipend that would be paid out in two installments, the first half when the student accepts the offer and the second half in the middle of their fellowship. The student can use the stipend towards anything: books, moving expenses, cost-of-living, student loans, food, etc. The student would also receive a paid, post-grad fellowship opportunity that last six months, following their graduation. They would also have the opportunity to select which H+K office they would like to work out of, with the options including, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York or Washington, D.C. At the end of the 6-month fellowship, if the student completes his/her fellowship satisfactorily, the fellow could be considered for a full-time Associate position with Hill+Knowlton Strategies.

How was it conceived?

This project was conceived by H+K’s SVP, US Director of Human Resources, Jill Miller and members of our Human Resources team. We wanted to further our diversity + inclusion efforts to complement our diversity and inclusion initiative, YouBelong. We aimed to create something truly impactful, so we decided on a scholarship for diverse students.

Because we’ve had a long-standing relationship with Howard University and the proximity to the H+K DC office, we knew they would be an ideal partner for this program.  We’ve participated in the university’s public relations career fairs, its School of Communications career fairs, and its Young Alumni and PR Professionals panels. We have also invited the Howard’s School of Communications students to our mentoring event in partnership with ColorComm. The event focused on mentorship and networking as diverse women in the communications industry. We even have a few alumni that are a part of this project, so it was really nice to establish a program like this.

Who can apply and how?

Our applicants must meet the eligibility requirements, which include being an undergraduate student in Howard University’s Cathy Hughes School of Communications, a graduating senior in Fall 2019 or Spring 2020, enrolled part-time or full-time and have a minimum 3.0 GPA.

All of our eligibility requirements and application information is thoroughly stated on our fellowship program’s landing page.

All applications are due by Friday, October 4th.

Are there plans to expand this opportunity to other universities or countries?

This is the inaugural year so there’s definitely plans to grow from here. We’ve used this year to build out the program, so it will be bigger and better moving forward. We would really love to do more with this opportunity because it’s such a great, innovative initiative! We would love to partner with other schools with diverse students populations and offer a similar award.

How does this tie into H+K’s Distinction/YouBelong diversity initiatives?

It directly ties into our Distinction and YouBelong initiatives. The H+K Stipend Award & Post-Grad Fellowship Program goes deeper into the mission of H+K’s YouBelong program, closely aligning with our agency’s values. This program goes directly into the surrounding community, encouraging diverse students to consider and even work at a PR agency. You don’t see a lot of people of color in agencies, so this is a great way to expose the next generation to professional opportunities. When talking with students in person as part of our outreach, some of them didn’t even consider agency life. However, after learning about our program, they were eager to apply.

Anything else you want to share about this scholarship, H+K or future initiatives?

We are so proud of the inception of this program! We’ve worked really hard to bring this program into fruition. We’re very optimistic that the Howard University H+K Stipend Award Program and Post-Grad Fellowship will make a huge impact on students, even if it’s just raising awareness about agency life. This program has the potential to make a difference.