“Who you know only gets you in the door; what you know gets you the keys to the house.”
– Gina Greenlee, best-selling author.
While there’s no secret recipe for professional and financial success, we know that access to a broad set of learning and skills development experiences, networks, and strong mentors plays an important role for many. These assets and critical ingredients to success are not equally available to everyone, as 1 in 3 young people will grow up without a mentor and many lack access to quality education and employment experiences.
But these inequities won’t solve themselves–they require intentional and deliberate action from leaders who not only have the power to help open the door but can hand over the keys for long-term success as well. That’s why JPMorgan Chase created The Fellowship Initiative (TFI), a three-year program to provide young men of color in high school with the education, skills, and resources that contribute to greater economic mobility.
TFI offers professional and personal opportunities for young men to hone leadership and networking skills. Fellows like Jason Lopez from Los Angeles found a lasting sense of community through TFI and say the program has been instrumental in supporting both personal and professional growth.
“TFI gave me the knowledge that by surrounding myself with positive people who want me to succeed, it will allow me to become the best, most successful version of myself,” said Lopez, a 2017 TFI graduate and student at Cal State University, Long Beach.
Lopez believes education is the key to a better life.“I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life after high school. The only thing I knew was that furthering my education would not only help me navigate this world, but also assist me in gaining the tools to be successful in the future,” he added. “Once I heard what the Fellowship Initiative could do for me, I knew that I could not pass it up because it could change my life.”
More than 600 JPMorgan Chase employees have worked with TFI Fellows providing mentorship and coaching, Since 2020, the program has expanded to Houston; Oakland; and Washington, D.C.; and now serves students in seven cities across the country. The program has an impressive impact on students, having driven 100 percent high school graduation and admission to college among graduating Fellows.
“Many of these young men are the first in their families to access quality postsecondary supports and opportunities to go to college,” said Rudy Lozano, head of The Fellowship Initiative, JPMorgan Chase. “Through TFI, we’re able to break down the systemic barriers that too often limit economic mobility and invest in the growth of the next generation of leaders.”
During their time in TFI, students receive academic training and project-based learning as well as one-on-onementoring with JPMorgan Chase employees. Other focal areas of the program include mental health support, college readiness and planning support, professional and leadership development, and career awareness activities.
“I wanted a support system to set my foundation and path towards success. I wanted a program that would help me fight against all obstacles. That is exactly what TFI promised and delivered to me,” said Modou Sissoho of New York, 2020 TFI graduate and student at Bates College.
Sissoho also has words of wisdom for his peers wanting to better their lives and secure a successful future. “Opportunities don’t come to you sitting at home. One has to take the initiative. Dream, and make sure you chase it because it will not chase you.”
Ramon Rachal of Los Angeles, 2017 TFI graduate and student at the University of California, Merced, says TFI revealed a whole new world and opened his mind to a multitude of new possibilities. “TFI exposed me to different opportunities such as traveling out of the country and backpacking in national parks. I would not have gotten the chance to do some of these things because of my socioeconomic status otherwise,” Rachal said. “Being exposed to these things in high school made me realize that I am deserving of more.”
Rachal encourages others to be fearless and explore every opportunity. “Do not be afraid to follow your desires because on the other side of fear are all of the things you are wishing for.”
Jason Lopez added that life is not a straight path and it’s okay to ask for guidance when you need it. “The best advice I can give to young men from my community is not to get frustrated when your life plan isn’t going the way you expected it to go,” Lopez said.
Through 2030, TFI will triple the number of young people it serves to more than 1,000 across several U.S. cities, building on Chase’s commitment to prepare youth for the future of work.
For more information about the program and how you can get involved, visit your local Chase bank or the TFI home page.