Paving the Way for Black Excellence: How Amazon Is Opening Doors for the Next Generation of Black Trailblazers
Photo Credit: AfroTech

Paving the Way for Black Excellence: How Amazon Is Opening Doors for the Next Generation of Black Trailblazers

Throughout this year’s Black History Month, it was remarkable to see how the Black community recognized and uplifted each other. #BlackExcellence is everywhere. 

This year, Amazon celebrated by turning the spotlight on the Black creators, innovators and entrepreneurs doing big things and creating history in real time. From artists to makers to tech professionals and more, there’s no shortage of #BlackHistoryMakers leaving a mark. 

“All of the contributions that Black people have made […] can’t be contained to just one month,” declares Latasha Gillespie, the Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Amazon Studios, Prime Video and IMDB. 

Amazon strives to create a space where Black employees feel empowered to grow their careers and continue to step up into leadership positions. This year, Amazon kicked off its BHM celebration by highlighting its innovative employees and partners who are creating real and long-lasting change within the community.

The BEN Scholarship

Amazon’s Black Employee Network (BEN) was started in 2005 as a long-term initiative to connect and empower Black professionals working at Amazon, and it continues to be a trusted resource group. Now, its influence has grown even further, as the group partners with community organizations and focuses on outreach to Black creators and innovators within the community. 

This February, the group introduced the BEN Scholarship to reach and empower Black high school students hoping to pursue STEM or supply chain-related careers. In partnership with Amazon Future Engineer and World Wide Operations, the BEN scholarship will provide crucial access to higher education. The ultimate goal is to remove the barriers many students face and provide the funding they need to get in the door. 

The scholarship is geared toward Black high school seniors with aspirations to pursue computer science or supply chain-related fields of study. Ten recipients will receive $5,000 for four years, totaling $20,000, along with an industry mentorship with someone from the Black Employee Network. BEN members hope that connecting these students with trailblazers in the field will light the path for young leaders to follow in their footsteps.

Applications are now open, with submissions due by March 4, 2021. Interested students can learn more about the scholarship and apply here.

Turning the Spotlight on Black Vendors

As Amazon continues its efforts toward inclusion, it’s launched several new initiatives aimed at uplifting and supporting the platform’s Black creators and entrepreneurs. 

Amazon Launchpad’s Meet the Launchers page helps customers discover small Black-owned businesses and the important missions behind each brand. Customers get to know these entrepreneurs and learn how their culture is celebrated through their products. 

Head over to the Black-Owned Small Business page, and find even more bold stories of brand innovation and how their businesses reached success through traditions and proud cultural legacies. 

Amazon Handmade is celebrating Black Makers and artisans, showcasing hundreds of unique handcrafted products and sharing stories about what inspired these crafters to start their handcrafting businesses. 

Amazon Live features stories directly from Black business owners. Viewers can learn more about their experiences as Black entrepreneurs, shop their products and hear how they’re making history now. 

Creating sustainable change includes building a pipeline for continued growth for Black businesses. Amazon Small Business Academy provides resources to empower small business owners to successfully partner with Amazon by leveraging webinars and on-demand videos that dive into the fundamentals of launching an online store. Recent programming includes a webinar with the California Black Chambers of Commerce and the Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce and the Chicago Urban League. 

For Amazon, maintaining the trajectory and momentum of this work remains a top priority. Its everyday commitment inside the company and across communities with its partners is a positive step toward a lasting change for anyone, no matter their circumstances. 

“When innovation is fostered in the Black community, we close gaps on all social disparities,” says Danyel Surrency Jones, co-founder and CEO of Powerhandz and featured #BlackHistoryMaker. 

To learn more about Amazon’s commitment to empowering Black History Makers, visit here

This editorial is brought to you in partnership with Amazon. 

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