Across the Golden State, minority and low-income communities have been hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. As California rebuilds from COVID-19’s economic devastation, it is imperative these communities are not left behind in the recovery.
While inclusive economic recovery is possible, it requires targeted and sustained efforts by government, minority-led organizations (MLOs), and private-sector partners to be fully realized. Corporate America has the resources, and MLOs have the expertise and on-the-ground relationships to guide impactful investments that can uplift underserved communities.
Our experiences serving in leadership roles at T-Mobile, the National Diversity Coalition, and the National Urban League have shown us there is a persistent funding gap for MLOs, limiting their reach and ability to help communities with the greatest need. However, through partnerships between MLOs and the private sector, we know it is possible to close these funding gaps, garner insights, and build best practices that drive meaningful investments and outcomes for the communities they represent.
T-Mobile is currently putting this model to the test through its partnerships with local California-based organizations that not only advocate for underserved populations but are also led by members of those communities.
One way T-Mobile is doing this is through the establishment of a National and a California Council whose members are community leaders whose role is to provide advice and counsel to the company. With their help, T-Mobile is working to invest in digital literacy, tech entrepreneurship, scholarships and internships, workforce development, and more. The Council reflects the State’s diversity and T-Mobile’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Meet the California Council
Members of the California Council are:
- Council Chairperson Faith Bautista, National Diversity Coalition
- Brenda Victoria Castillo, National Hispanic Media Coalition
- Cole Woodman, Veterans in Business Network
- Gene Hale, Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce
- Gloria Corral, Parent Institute for Quality Education
- Hernan Hernandez, California Farmworker Foundation
- Jason Paguio, Asian Business Association San Diego
- Julian Cañete, California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce
- Laneesha Senegal, Helping Others Pursue Excellence
- Lester Olmstead-Rose, LGBTQ+ Advocate
- Mary Hewitt, Los Angeles County Boys & Girls Clubs
- Nicole Lim, California Indian Cultural Museum & Cultural Center
T-Mobile Project in Kingsburg Is Teamwork Example
Today, these community leaders’ expertise is already helping the company tap into the often-overlooked diverse workforce in California’s Central Valley, while working to close the digital divide for both urban and rural consumers. By leveraging the partnership between T-Mobile and its California Council, the company will enhance its objectives by more effectively targeting its hiring initiatives to diverse employees and helping to create inclusive, sustainable economic opportunities to improve the economic prospects of both rural and minority communities in the region.
A timely example of T-Mobile’s commitment to create jobs in economically challenged areas of California is its new Customer Experience Center, currently under construction and slated to open next year in Kingsburg. Building the CEC— a promise the company made prior to merging with Sprint — will create approximately 1,000 new jobs with anticipated wages nearly 34% higher than the average compensation in the Central Valley. The vast majority of these jobs will only require a high school diploma or equivalent GED to qualify for hiring.
We hope our efforts in the Central Valley can serve as a model for others in California so they too can tap into the state’s diverse workforce and help bring economic opportunity to underserved communities. The more we empower our diverse and underserved communities, the brighter the Golden State shines.
About the Authors
Faith Bautista is the president and CEO of the National Diversity Coalition, an organization of community organizers, faith-based leaders, nonprofit directors, and business owners advocating for the voiceless and working collectively for greater financial equality and empowerment for underserved groups. She also serves as the president and CEO of the National Asian American Coalition, a nonprofit that provides housing counseling, small business lending, and technical assistance services to minority and low-income populations. She is a member of T-Mobile’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion California Council.
Clint Odom is the vice president for Strategic Alliances and External Affairs at T-Mobile. Previously, he served as policy chief and head of the Washington Bureau at National Urban League and comes from a career in policy advocacy to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion.