CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- More than a great idea and hard work are needed to run a
company: it takes money, training and a break or two. In the cut-throat
world of commerce, minority-owned businesses must compete with companies
with deep pockets, managed by Ivy-leaguers trained at the finest schools.
To offset this extra burden, companies like Bank of America pay attention
not only to the diversity within their own work force, but also in the
companies with which they do business. Bank of America's supplier diversity
program not only encourages and supports contracts with diverse suppliers,
it also helps fund the Dorothy B. Brothers Minority Executive Scholarship,
providing minority business owners with access to high-caliber management
education. These scholarships help those business owners formulate and
implement business strategies to achieve a competitive advantage, and to
manage their company's growth in order to successfully bid, win and manage
"Helping diverse businesses grow through contracting opportunities, bank
products and services allows Bank of America to grow at the same time,"
spokesman Terry Francisco said.
The bank founded the scholarship, in memory of its longtime supplier
diversity director, in 2002 in partnership with Women's Business Enterprise
National Council and Minority Business News USA. Minority and women
business owners who have at least three to five years of experience running
a company are eligible. They must have at least three full-time employees
and sell between $500,000 and $50 million a year.
Scholarship recipients train at schools like the University of Virginia's
Darden School of Business; the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth
College; the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University; the
Berkeley Center for Executive Development at the University of California,
Berkeley; and programs at the University of Texas, the University of
Wisconsin and the University of California, Los Angeles.
Last year, 24 executives participated in the program. Some program
participants have nothing more than a high school degree; others go on to
college and earned graduate degrees. But all benefit from the advanced
training they receive through the program. Bank of America benefits as
well, Francisco said.
"Besides being the right thing to do, encouraging a diverse, inclusive
workplace gives us the business advantage of understanding and satisfying
the needs of our diverse customers, clients and shareholders," he said.
"Our diversity also provides fresh ideas and perspectives, which promotes
Because of diversity initiatives, about 10 percent of Bank of America
suppliers are minority owned or operated, Francisco said. In 2004, that
totaled about $825 million spent with diverse suppliers.
For more information about the Dorothy B. Brothers Minority Executive
Scholarship, or to download an application, visit