Empowering Young Men of Color through the UBS NextGen Leaders Program

The Experiment in International Living is proud to be providing international experiences for 124 young men of color participating in one of the country’s most exciting new academic achievement programs, UBS NextGen Leaders.

Inspired by President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative, UBS NextGen Leaders helps lower-income, first-generation-to-college young men of color from across the New York City metro area achieve college and career success through academic and career-focused activities that support them from their junior year of high school through college graduation.

Thanks to a historically generous grant of $725,000 from UBS, each UBS NextGen Leader kicked off his experience with The Experiment. Spread across The Experiment’s programs in groups of two to four, UBS NextGen Leaders kayaked in Spain, trekked in Tanzania, and rode horses in Mongolia. For many, it was their first time leaving the United States.

Dr. Aaron Morehouse, executive director of The Experiment, said that UBS partnered with The Experiment in large part thanks to The Experiment’s long history with Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO), the mentoring organization with which UBS is partnering for much of the program’s college achievement-focused programing.

“We’ve had a running partnership with SEO for many years now,” said Morehouse. When UBS and SEO wanted to add an international experience to the UBS NextGen Leaders program, “they came to us because we’re the best at providing this kind of experience for young people.”

“When it came time for the students in our UBS NextGen Leaders program to begin college, we were keen to help them gain a broader worldview and a deeper understanding of different languages, religions, and customs that they could apply to their studies,” said Lori B. Feinsilver, head of community affairs & corporate responsibility, Americas, at UBS. “With its 80-year history introducing young people to new cultures, World Learning was a natural fit, and has been a great partner in encouraging our students to dream big.”

In addition, Morehouse emphasizes that programs like UBS NextGen Leaders could lead to greater diversity in international fields in which minorities historically have been underrepresented.

“When we look at the worlds of business, foreign affairs and diplomacy, or NGOs and non-profits, there is a recognition for the need to build diverse leadership,” Morehouse said. “Diversity and inclusion in these fields has the known benefit of stronger and better outcomes and more innovation.”

“If we want the global leaders of tomorrow to truly represent the makeup of the U.S. and the world as a whole, we need to diversify,” Morehouse added.

Diversity on program enables Experimenters to learn about the United States as well as their host country. Arriving with varying ethnicities, regional backgrounds, and cultures, Experimenters solve problems together and learn to live as a group, often forming bonds that last a lifetime. Writing in post-program essays, participants described their groups as “a single unit” or “family.”

The grant that UBS provided to support UBS NextGen Leaders is one of the largest The Experiment has received, and the partnership between UBS, SEO, and The Experiment is a model for how the impact of international experience can be amplified through strong and visionary partners. Additional support came through the UBS Challenge, in which The Experiment and World Learning community raised over $100,000 towards UBS NextGen Leaders’ experiences.

In addition to the UBS NextGen Leaders program, The Experiment works with over 60 mentoring organizations around the United States to identify promising young leaders and help finance their trips abroad. Still, Morehouse says that there is plenty of room to grow these partnerships.

“Every single dollar that comes into The Experiment helps us to continue our commitment to inclusion and diversity,” said Morehouse. “And there’s a growing demand.”

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