Engaging students has been one of the chronic challenges of the past year. But one nonprofit organization, The Diversity Org, is leveraging its Gen Z and Millenial leadership to hook students into exploring their career options across corporate America. 

The Diversity Org helps low-income students learn how to obtain corporate and high-income careers through three channels: targeted exposure to companies and professionals at high school assemblies; workshops bringing together students and corporate volunteers; and through internship experiences for college students at the organization’s partner corporations.

The inspiration for its approach spun out of an organization that its Founder and CEO Joshua Pierce first founded as a college student in 2014. 

The Diversity Org boasts an impressive roster of corporate partners; however, what distinguishes it from other career exposure and support nonprofits is the clarity the team brings to shifting corporate culture and attitudes about the value that Millennials and Gen Z can bring to their enterprises. The organization’s mantra is “we are them,” given its leadership is close in age and experience to the students they serve. This “near-peer” approach  can translate to better engaging and meeting the needs ofstudents, while simultaneously  opening corporations’ eyes and minds to the specific value that a new generation of talent can offer. 

As such, the Diversity Org appears to be building a promising bridge between under-resourced high schools and large corporations, with young leaders who can translate the value and opportunities across both. 

In this Q&A, Pierce and his colleague and vice president Maisha Kabir discuss the organization’s mission and vision, why they teach students the concept of “vertical relationships,” their unique approach to career exposure through high school assemblies, and how they think about leveraging technology to respond to students’ needs and demands during and beyond the pandemic.