American Eagle Outfitters, Inc. has launched the AEO REALChange Scholarship for Social Justice, a 5 million dollar commitment created to advance educational opportunities for full and part-time AEO Inc. associates who are actively driving anti-racism, equality and social justice initiatives.
“We have always believed that one of the best investments we can make is in our people. The REAL Change Scholarship for Social Justice demonstrates AEO’s commitment to help end racism, discrimination and inequality while providing educational support for the next generation of leaders,” said Jay Schottenstein, executive chairman of the board and chief executive officer of AEO Inc., in a statement. “Together we are making real—and lasting—change to build an even stronger, more diverse workplace that provides opportunities for our associates to continue to develop and grow within our AEO family.”
The AEO REAL Change Scholarship for Social Justice is open to all full-time and part-time associates based on academic performance, financial need and a demonstrated commitment to advancing social justice issues that will create lasting and positive change. In its first year, the program will select 15 recipients, each eligible for up to 40,000 dollars during their pursuit of a post-secondary education. Recipients will be assigned an AEO Inc. mentor to serve as a resource in furthering their development and social justice efforts. Beyond this program, AEO Inc. will offer tuition reimbursement as a benefit to qualifying associates to further promote and build upon education and recruiting opportunities at the company. The AEO REAL Change Scholarship for Social Justice will begin accepting applications in spring 2021.
The AEO REAL Change Scholarship for Social Justice is the latest step the company has taken as part of its broader inclusion and diversity initiatives that has been focused on three key workstreams: hiring, culture and development. Earlier this year, the company named a chief inclusion & diversity officer to lead and further advance AEO’s efforts to strengthen the career development of Black and POC associates, increase representation of diverse candidates in hiring, promote education and awareness, and equip leaders and teams with the tools to maintain an inclusive workplace. In June, AEO Inc. made a 500,000 dollar pledge to the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund to support their education equity work and scholarships for exceptional African-American students. The company also matched up to 100,000 dollars in donations made by AEO associates to organizations fighting against racism and for social justice. The company also implemented a program with the National Retail Federation to provide retail career education for students attending HBCUs.
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