Virginia Tech has received a $500,000 gift from the Charles Schwab Corp. — funded through the Charles Schwab Foundation — to endow a scholarship program that will provide financial assistance and career opportunities to students from underrepresented communities.

Virginia Tech is among seven schools that the Charles Schwab Corp. has announced are its partners in an initiative to help expand the pipeline of diverse talent into the financial services industry. The other institutions are Arizona State University, Purdue University, Temple University, Texas Tech University, The University of Akron, and the University of Arizona.

“We believe programs like our scholarship endowment can have a meaningful impact in people’s lives by creating educational opportunities, which can help break down barriers and open new possibilities,” said Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, president of Charles Schwab Foundation and senior vice president of Charles Schwab & Co. “Schwab was founded on the belief that our industry should be more inclusive. By providing encouragement and support to underrepresented students to consider careers in financial services, we can strengthen both our company and industry.”

Scholarship recipients will be invited to apply for and participate in an internship at Schwab and offered other career preparation opportunities.

“We greatly appreciate this generous gift from the Charles Schwab Foundation,” Pamplin College of Business Dean Robert Sumichrast said.

Pamplin is committed to building a diverse, inclusive, and equitable society, Sumichrast said, adding that an essential part of this process is providing a supportive environment, including financial assistance and mentoring, to recruit and retain talented students from underrepresented communities.

“Schwab’s gift will enhance our ability to create a more diverse student body in our financial planning program and to contribute to greater diversity in the financial planning workforce,” Sumichrast said.

At Virginia Tech, the first scholarship is expected to be awarded this fall. Applicants must be in the second semester of their sophomore year. Students interested in applying can find more information about the scholarship criteria here.

The Charles Schwab Foundation’s donation will fund up to two scholarships of at least $10,000 a year each to eligible finance majors who are pursuing the financial planning option in the Pamplin College. The scholarships will support the student’s junior and senior years of study.

Vijay Singal, head of the Department of Finance, Insurance, and Business Law, noted that Virginia Tech’s financial planning program, directed by Ruth Lytton since its inception, is considered among the best financial planning programs in the U.S. and one of the few housed in a top-ranked business school.

“As a result, students learn the financial planning process with a strong background in valuation and pricing of a variety of financial products that can be tailored to the specific risk and investment requirements of clients,” Singal said. “This extensive knowledge base is attractive to numerous investment advisors who compete for our graduates.”

Pamplin’s financial planning program has an almost 100 percent placement rate, Singal said, with a large number of employers returning to hire additional graduates.

“Our students are also successful at national competitions for scholarships, awards, and other recognitions,” Singal added.

A comprehensive research study commissioned by the CFP Board Center for Financial Planning, citing data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, noted that less 3.5 percent of the 80,000 CPP professionals in the U.S. as of 2017 were Black or Latino, which is far less than their percentage in the U.S. population.

The Charles Schwab Foundation’s multi-university scholarship builds on other scholarship programs it has funded, which are part of the company’s ongoing efforts to develop and attract diverse talent by recruiting from multiple communities that are underrepresented in the financial planning industry, including women, people of color, people with disabilities, and people with military backgrounds.

“In working closely with universities near our employment centers, we believe we can help open new possibilities through financial assistance, mentorship, professional development, and industry experience,” Schwab-Pomerantz said.

Written by Sookhan Ho