OPM launches effort to attract black college graduates

The Office of Personnel Management and the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO) are teaming up to bring more graduates of historically black colleges to the agency. Under a memorandum of understanding signed Wednesday, OPM and NAFEO will begin a partnership to provide internships, scholarships and other training programs to students from NAFEO-member institutions. NAFEO represents historically black colleges and universities throughout the country. "This agreement gives us a partnership to really make good on our commitment to equal opportunity," said OPM Director Janice Lachance at the signing ceremony Wednesday. The partnership helps implement a 1993 executive order that directed OPM to improve the recruitment of students from historically black colleges throughout the federal government. The partnership grew out of conversations between OPM Director of Diversity Maria Mercedes Olivieri and NAFEO officials at the NAFEO annual conference in February. At the conference, Olivieri said that while OPM had a partnership with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, it had no similar agreement with historically black colleges, thus limiting their access to OPM diversity initiatives. "I thought we should do something similar to the memoranda of understanding OPM has with other groups," said Olivieri. In its final form, OPM's memorandum of understanding with NAFEO is more extensive than its agreement with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities. "We wanted something with more teeth in it," said Olivieri. In the memorandum, OPM commits to provide opportunities to students from historically black colleges through programs such as the Student Career Experience Program, OPM intern program, and Presidential Management Intern program. NAFEO will disseminate information about OPM to its member institutions and support OPM in its outreach efforts. "This document [the memorandum] will be the basis for our working together for a long time," NAFEO CEO Henry Ponder said of the partnership with OPM.
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