Thursday, September 26, 2013

Fellows Program Preps Graduate Students of Color for Success in the Social Sector

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Corey Blay, a Management Leadership for Tomorrow Fellow

Corey Blay is a future leader in the social sector. In 2014, the former teacher will graduate from a pilot MBA/MPA degree program at NYU with the goal of opening a middle school for boys of color in Harlem. He is just one of the many success stories of Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT), a nonprofit focused on equipping high-potential minorities with the critical skills, coaching and mentoring and access to opportunities to help them unlock their potential as leaders.

The organization cites that although 30% of the nation’s population is comprised of African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans, they only make up 3% of senior leadership in corporations, nonprofits and entrepreneurial ventures – resulting in a leadership pipeline crisis.  John Rice, MLT’s founder and CEO stated, “As I began to explore this problem, I came to understand that there were a number of significant gaps in the way minorities were navigating their career paths.  I started MLT to help ambitious young people of color who wanted to go out and accomplish big things. I wanted to give them a very clear understanding of the bar of excellence at the best organizations, as well as a road map for how to succeed once they were there. I wanted to help them understand how they needed to approach their careers, based on how people at the top got there. MLT formalizes the instruction and delivery of the ingredients every senior leader says are key: coaching, mentoring, door-opening relationships and the hard and soft skills not necessarily taught in graduate school.”

To date MLT has benefited more than 3,000 participants, known as MLT Fellows.  Its alumni are the leading source of minority students for the nation’s premier MBA programs (40% of the minority students at Harvard Business School, Kellogg, and Wharton are MLT alumni) and are the #1 source of minority talent for many of the nation’s leading blue-chip employers.  In addition, MLT has been featured on the cover of Fortune; on CNN’s “Black in America 2: Tomorrow’s Leaders;”and Forbes recently named John Rice as one of the top 30 social entrepreneurs in the world.

In 2011, MLT created the Social Sector Talent Initiative in partnership with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service and Stern School of Business, designed to expand the diverse leadership pipeline for the social sector (non-profits, foundations, social entrepreneurship organizations and government). Rafael L√≥pez, associate director of talent and leadership development at the Annie E. Casey Foundation shared about the partnership, “We went to MLT specifically because they are leveraging their private sector success in growing the social sector pipeline. They are testing their ideas about how to expand the pipeline, just as we are testing ours. This partnership was meant to be.”

Corey was the first Fellow to enroll in the Initiative’s dual degree MBA/MPA program at NYU to help him prepare for a career in the social sector.  Prior to enrolling, he was declined from two top MBA programs and wasn’t sure what to do next.  Today, Corey credits MLT with his career path: “Now I have a deep leadership team for my project, a network of support and this new school really has legs… I could still be a teacher somewhere, struggling with entrenched problems, but instead I’m on the cusp of building something new that could become an institution in Harlem and even in other parts of the country.”

Read on to learn more about Corey’s goal of opening a middle school for boys and his experience in the MLT Social Sector Talent Initiative.

Please share about your vision of creating Brotherhood Prep, a new middle school for boys in Harlem. What’s your progress to date?

Black and Latino males have the lowest graduation rates in New York City and are more likely than their white peers to be suspended or expelled from school, underemployed, and incarcerated.  Brotherhood Prep intends to partner with families and organizations throughout Northern Manhattan and change the life trajectory of boys of color by focusing on their individual academic needs, developing their socio-emotional skills, cultivating meaningful and supportive ties with other young men, and preparing them for immediate success in New York City’s top private high schools.  Over the past year, we’ve completed the business plan, reached the semifinalist round in the Yale Social Venture Competition, and recruited our first board members.  Now, we are in the early stages of incorporating the nonprofit and hope to find incubator space to help get the school off the ground.

You are the first MLT fellow to enroll in the pilot MBA/MPA dual degree program at NYU. What has been your experience thus far?

My time at NYU has been nothing short of life affirming and transformational.  My classmates are brilliant and passionate individuals who inspire me every day, and all my classroom and extracurricular experiences have accelerated my growth as a future leader in the social sector.  I’ve had the privilege to sit in on meetings with White House economic advisers organized by Dean Ellen Schall at Wagner, partner with Stern’s Dean, Peter Henry, on issues such as college affordability and income inequality, and advise NYU President, John Sexton, on NYU’s campus expansion and university governance. There isn’t a single day I’m not thankful for the opportunities I’ve been afforded.

What would you say to someone thinking about applying to MLT’s Social Sector Talent Initiative?

I believe the most effective social sector leaders are persistent, creative, and resourceful.  Fortunately these are values that MLT instills in all of its fellows.  Whenever I speak with potential applicants about the dual degree program, I also share the importance of knowing who you are.  It’s so easy to get distracted by all the different and exciting career paths graduate students are exposed to.  Navigating graduate school successfully requires having a clear vision of what you wish to accomplish in the world and the courage to realize your dreams.  MLT prepares its fellows to do exactly that.

Anything else you'd like to share?

I can’t stress enough how important MLT and NYU’s partnership with the Annie E. Casey Foundation is, and I hope other organizations take notice of our work and follow suit.  We need to actively develop leaders of color across the private, public, and social sectors if we hope to achieve sustainable change for communities of color.  I can only speak for myself when I say that my experiences as an MLT Fellow and NYU student have prepared me with the skills and network needed to make Brotherhood Prep a reality and positively impact the lives of students and families throughout Harlem.

Learn more about MLT by visiting, and for a case study on MLT’s Social Sector Talent Initiative, visit here.

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