NBCU News Group Launches Academy Providing Tools, Resources, and Platforms for Young, Underrepresented Voices

By A.J. Katz 

NBCUniversal News Group chairman Cesar Conde announced the Fifty Percent Challenge Initiative last July, an aggressive action plan to turn the NBCU News Group employee base to be 50% women and 50% people of color.

It remains to be seen if Conde and his team at NBCUniversal News Group can hit that 50-50 mark, but the company is certainly serious about serving minority and underrepresented communities, —putting its money where its mouth is— and the newest example is through the launch of NBCU Academy.

The NBCU Academy is a new multiplatform journalism training and development program for four-year university and community college students at 17 college and universities, including HBCU’s, Hispanic-Serving Institutions and colleges with significant Latino, Asian American and Pacific Islander, Black, Indigenous and tribal populations – reaching students from underrepresented groups including those from diverse racial, ethnic, sexual orientation, gender identity, ability, economic, and geographic backgrounds.

The NBCU Academy provides education, on-campus training and online programming, and the initiative includes a curated onsite curriculum for hands-on learning experience with world-class NBCU News Group journalists, funding for accredited journalism programs and scholarships.

“Creating an inclusive culture for journalism that represents the communities we serve is at the very core of what we do,” Conde said in a statement. “Through NBCU Academy, we have the opportunity to widen our extraordinary legacy by building on-ramps for a talented generation of journalists and storytellers who—for so long—may have been overlooked.”

Conde adds in a separate memo to staff: “I am confident that through sustainable partnerships with these academic institutions, we are well positioned to find and nurture great talent, become the preeminent place for the next generation of top-notch journalists, and change the media landscape.”

The company says that NBCU Academy will invest a total of $6.5 million to the new initiative, including scholarships worth $3.5 million over the next two years. In addition to providing equipment and collaborating with professors to develop seminar courses, NBCU News Group journalists and execs from editorial and production teams across NBC News, MSNBC, CNBC and Telemundo News will participate as guest lecturers to provide real-world insight and mentorship.

College/university partners include:

  • Borough of Manhattan Community College in New York, NY
  • California State University, Fullerton in Fullerton, CA
  • Claflin University in Orangeburg, SC
  • Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, GA
  • Dallas College in Dallas, TX
  • El Camino College in Torrance, CA
  • Florida International University in Miami, FL
  • Hampton University in Hampton, VA
  • Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, NM
  • Miami Dade College in Miami, FL
  • Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD
  • North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, NC
  • Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College in Orangeburg, SC
  • The City College of New York in New York, NY
  • University of North Texas in Denton, TX
  • University of Texas at El Paso in El Paso, TX
  • Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans, LA

In June 2020, Comcast NBCUniversal announced a multi-year $100 million commitment to help address systemic racism and inequality. NBCU Academy is part of that pledge and focuses on providing tools, resources, and platforms for young, underrepresented voices.

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