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Walmart Inc. is investing $5 million in the nation's largest historically Black university for a program aiming to get more Black college graduates into business, engineering and other professional careers.

The Bentonville-based retailer's funding will help establish a program called the Equity in Education Initiative at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, Donna Morris, Walmart's chief people officer, said Wednesday in a phone call with media outlets.

The five-year program will be phased in over three semesters beginning in early 2021, Morris said, and will offer resources in four focus areas:

• The Black Male Initiative will address achievement, retention and graduation rates for Black men, which are often lower than those for Black women.

• The Leadership Cohort Initiative will provide Black men and women in business and engineering programs with the skills, coaching and connections to advance their careers after graduation.

• Advancing Blacks in Engineering aims both to produce more engineering graduates and to prepare them for leadership roles in the profession.

• Scholarship support will be made available for participating students.

Morris said the $5 million investment in the initiative is in addition to the $100 million Center for Racial Equity that Walmart and the Walmart Foundation announced earlier this year.

Chancellor Harold L. Martin Sr. said Walmart's investment will affect the lives of thousands of students.

The university has an annual enrollment topping 12,000, and Martin said it is making plans to grow that number over the next few years.

Martin said Walmart's gift is the largest corporate investment the university has ever received. He said the retailer hopes the program will become a model or template for other partnerships between corporations and historically Black universities around the country.

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