Better Together: Mission North and Partners Launch Industry DBE Initiative with ‘Foster the Future’ Program

Foster the Future marquee

Over the years, Mission North has been working to improve diversity, belonging and equity (DBE) within our company and the broader public relations industry. During the process, we’ve been open about our commitments and progress. A top priority has been addressing the lack of diversity among leadership in the PR industry – only 20% of PR employees are ethnically diverse; that number drops to 7% among CEOs and directors. While women make up about 70% of PR professionals, only 30% of PR agency CEOs are women. We've also sought to address the barriers to entry in getting hired, namely early education of the industry, building networks, and having relevant work experience.

As part of that progress, we are thrilled to announce the launch of “The Foster the Future'' industry initiative, designed to provide organizations the tools and resources to foster diversity and equity within our field. Partnering with Mission North in this inaugural effort are Method Communications, LaunchSquad and Agean PR. The four agencies are collaborating with the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) to create fellowships that will provide scholarship funds and paid internships to students interested in communications who identify with groups historically excluded from the industry, including Black/African American, Hispanic/Latinx, American Indian and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander. By working together, this group is providing more than $60,000 in scholarships and stipends to four students, as well as four paid internships.

In reference to participation in Foster the Future, Maria Camarena, SVP + Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Committee at Method Communications, shared: "Method is honored to partner with other agencies to provide a scholarship program that supports POC students so they can experience and explore a career in PR and marketing. As a first generation college graduate and POC myself, I am proud to work at a place that is invested in building a legacy of supporting people of various ethnic and cultural backgrounds."

The initiative is inspired by the success of Mission North’s “The Future Is…” Fellowship, launched in 2022, designed to provide financial support and training for female undergraduates studying communications who identify with ethnic groups that are under-represented in the industry. It will continue to serve as a model program for this wider industry effort. Our inaugural fellow, Brielle Smith, spent a month working at Mission North as a paid summer intern and received a $5,000 stipend and a $15,000 scholarship.

<split-lines>"The initiative is inspired by the success of Mission North’s 'The Future Is…' Fellowship ... designed to provide financial support and training for female undergraduates studying communications who identify with ethnic groups that are under-represented in the industry."<split-lines>

Commenting on her experience at the agency, Brielle told us last year: “Each week challenged me to learn more about the industry and become a better communication specialist.” 

She added: “The PRSA Foundation and Mission North have created an incredible opportunity to support the interest of BIPOC women seeking exposure into this highly ethnographically exclusive field.”

In recognition of our efforts with “The Future Is…”, Mission North was honored at the PRSA Foundation’s annual Paladin Awards event in September. We were incredibly grateful for this recognition, as the organization spotlights some of the most impactful PR DBE efforts nationwide – including those that “have made an indelible impact on our community, particularly in the fight for diversity and inclusion…”

As part of the Foster the Future initiative, Mission North’s 2023 “The Future Is…” Fellowship will award a $16,000 scholarship, a $6,000 stipend, and a paid six-week internship to a female student in the area of communications. Women who identify with groups historically excluded from the industry, including Black/African American, Hispanic/Latinx, American Indian and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander are encouraged to apply. The role, of course, includes a particular focus on tech communications, science communications, or digital marketing and design. Applications will be open here starting on January 31 – and the deadline to submit is March 17.

<split-lines>"As part of the Foster the Future initiative, Mission North’s 2023 'The Future Is…' Fellowship will award a $16,000 scholarship, a $6,000 stipend, and a paid six-week internship to a female student in the area of communications."<split-lines>

Dawn Christian, President of the PRSA Foundation, shared her perspective on Foster the Future:

“To foster something means to nurture and to develop something -- it means to create the pathway for the sustainable evolution of the PR and Comms industry. It's about being growth-minded with the specificity and intentionality to disrupt inequities while pivoting toward what's next. The PRSA Foundation is excited about the Foster the Future fellowships because they are designed to deliver a broader perspective. They are defined by the talent, skills, and voices that thrive to breakthrough margins, resonate culturally inclusive viewpoints, and will curate new narratives that reflect all of who humans are in the world. That's what makes the Foster the Future fellowships so dynamic and impactful!”

We’re looking forward to working with this year’s fellow and supporting the other agencies as they launch their fellowships. It is our hope that Foster the Future grows larger each year; if you are interested in setting up your own fellowship program, please reach out and we can get you started. We’re also accepting donations here if you want to support future scholarships.  

Are you interested in joining the Mission North team? We’re hiring! Check out our open positions here.

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