The Department of the Air Force’s Diversity & Inclusion Strategic Action Team recently began working with the District of Columbia’s National Pan-Hellenic Council to inform youth in the region of the multiple opportunities the Air Force and Space Force offer.
The Diversity & Inclusion Strategic Action Team, a continuation of the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, was assembled in response to racial inequalities brought to light last year and reaffirmed the recent independent racial disparity review. One of the Line of Efforts, Recruiting and Accessions, has the primary objective of expanding external presence with minority centers of influence.
“Our goal with this partnership is to expose youth and influencers to multiple aspects of the Air Force to include STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), civilian career opportunities and research opportunities,” said Enjoli M. Ramsey, Office of Diversity & Inclusion Outreach and Recruitment chief.
The NPHC is a collaborative organization of historically African American fraternities and sororities. This organization sponsors numerous youth and community programs across the country every year and has a significant presence in the African American community.
“We are dedicated to working with the Air Force as a conduit, providing opportunities to students specifically minority youth and young adults during every academic transition of their lives,” said Marvin Burton, vice president of the D.C. NPHC. “We are able to do this in three ways – by encouraging the creative thought and fervent understanding of the sciences in an interactive way; offering grants, internships, summer and new hire jobs as business, civilian and servicing personnel; and by aligning topics of research interest (such as) environmental, lifestyle and biological from our National Institute of Health Initiative.”
Multiple Air Force agencies including the Academy, Civilian Service and Research Laboratory supported the initiative by conducting 11 virtual events throughout the fall of 2020. The 2021 spring events are currently underway.
“The National Pan-Hellenic Council is committed to developing and mentoring minority youth, so having the opportunity to partner with this non-profit organization to expose highly underrepresented kids to the wonderful world of STEM means a great deal to the Academy,” said Capt. Olawale Lawal, Air Force Academy assistant professor in the chemistry department. “Traditionally, the academy has conducted in-person events with schools and teachers in the local community, but our new partnership with NHPC has expanded our ability to create impact by delivering fun STEM Demonstrations virtually to students all the way in Washington, D.C. Last semester, in partnership with NHPC we held seven events, with over 200 students, parents and professionals.”
Ramsey explained that the Department of the Air Force stood up the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force in June 2020 to address the issue of racial, ethnic and other demographic disparities and their impact on the force, including how the service attracts and recruits talent.
“The changing U.S. demographics drive the need for innovative approaches to attraction, recruiting, development and retention of top talent and the Air Force must have access to all talent pools across the country,” she said. “Partnering with an organization like the National Pan-Hellenic Council has allowed the Air Force to tap into a talent pool that it otherwise would not have access to. Providing an opportunity for youth and influencers to experience the breadth and depth of the Air Force experience has been an invaluable attraction tool that we’ve been able to successfully utilize during this partnership.”