UAPB announces $500,000 pledge from Synchrony Foundation to advance education equity, skills training

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PINE BLUFF, Ark. – Officials with the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff announced a pledge of $500,000 over the next two years from the Synchrony Foundation. 

According to a release by UAPB, the pledge is part of Synchrony’s new initiative to advance education equity and economic opportunity for students and underserved communities. 

The Foundation’s Education as the Equalizer expands access to higher education, skills training in high-growth fields and financial literacy. The program builds on the company’s commitment to addressing deeply rooted economic and educational inequalities within communities through investment, engagement and social reform. 

The grant will help low-income and underrepresented students graduate college and offer guidance for future career endeavors by providing scholarships, business mentorships and internships. According to the release, students will also have access to free online financial literacy courses on topics such as saving, budgeting and student loans. 

“We believe academic success secures foundations for strong community leaders who play a vital role in ensuring safe and inclusive communities for all,” said Chancellor Laurence B. Alexander.   

“The pandemic has deepened economic inequality and accelerated demands for a more skilled workforce,” said Brian Doubles, President and CEO of Synchrony. “We believe access to education and skills training are key to driving an inclusive recovery, growing our economy, and securing a strong financial future.” 

Shirley Cherry, the Director of Career Services at UAPB, said the impact of the funding will significantly grow the university’s capacity to help students. 

“UAPB has been a lifeline in training the next generation of students for entry into the workplace,” said Cherry. “This funding allows us the stability to continue making a difference with our students.”   

UAPB leadership said the multi-year commitment also has an impact on the broader region and community. 

“Synchrony’s gift builds on the unique role Lion Nation has in Pine Bluff,” said Vice-Chancellor of Institutional Advancement George Cotton, Sr. “Their commitment to the university supports our student’s academic outcomes and advances the economic progress for Jefferson County.”   

According to the news release, Synchrony will invest more than $50 million in Education as an Equalizer. 

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