Target has been very loud about its commitment to providing equity to the retail space. From their annual Black History Month merchandise to their Black Beyond Measure initiatives, the retail giant is no stranger to creating spaces that amplify the businesses and creativity of Black entrepreneurs.

As a part of its Black History Month celebration, Target highlighted Historically Black College and University (HBCU) students who designed the popular merch available to consumers each year. Compounding on that work, Target hosted the HBCU Technology and Future Leaders in Retail Challenge.

According to the company’s website, the Future Leaders in Retail Challenge was for students to “explore a detailed case study, then develop comprehensive leadership plans that help the students explore the scope of responsibilities and dynamic challenges that Target store leaders tackle each day, all while further developing their own leadership skills and professional and retail acumen.”

Participants in the challenge were emerging HBCU creators, leaders, and entrepreneurs with a passion to change the landscape of the retail industry. In exchange for showcasing their skills, Target provided prizes and the opportunity to expand their network.

In addition to the above efforts, Target is donating to the represented HBCUs in the challenge. The first-place winner’s school will receive $5,00 and the second-place winner’s school will receive $3,000. The donation along with the investment in the students is a part of the company’s bigger goal of cultivating deeper relationships with the HBCU community to help the development of Black talent.

Meet the 2022 Winner of the HBCU Future Leaders in Retail Challenge

Photo Credit: Target

Aunjoli V. Myers is a freshman at Florida A&M University. Her winning scenario was Bounce Back 2022: Care, Grow, Win Together. Here is what Myers had to say about her experience:

“While I have always felt like problem-solving is one of my strengths, this competition confirmed my beliefs and challenged me to think outside the box regarding the many aspects of technology and leadership.”

Meet the 2022 Winners of the HBCU Technology Challenge

According to the challenge announcement, the goal of the HBCU Technology Challenge was to “create technical solutions to real-life projects and problems that Target software engineers are working to resolve while further developing their own technical and professional acumen.”

The winning team included Mahlangu Nzunda and Khaylah Rose of Jackson State University. Their winning scenario was Develop/code a prototype to improve the shopping experience for Target guests.

Here is what the winning team had to say about their experience:

Photo Credit: Target

“I discovered that I enjoy working with data and using it to solve problems, whether it’s coming up with new ways to improve something or looking for loopholes for a new opportunity,” said Nzunda.

Photo Credit: Target

“I learned that I am very persistent when it came to coding. I actually felt like a real programmer when I literally was stuck on an issue/problem for hours. However, it was incredibly satisfying when I was able to solve the issue. Overall, I learned that persistence is key and to never give up,” Rose explained.