Investing in the Next Generation of Black Leaders

Ana White サムネール
Ana White
Published March 11, 2021

Education is the key to changing a life trajectory—and F5 is thrilled to support Rainier Scholars as it prepares students of color for long-term academic success and lives of leadership.

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” This is a question that has persisted for me throughout my professional life. One of the key reasons I joined F5 is the company’s human-first culture and commitment to social good.

I’ve always been passionate about children, especially those from underprivileged and underserved backgrounds. And I believe that we should play a role in bringing about a racially just and equitable society in which every child has the opportunity to succeed and prosper.

Unfortunately, the disparities are very real beginning at a young age. Across the U.S., the average public high school graduation rate is 10 percentage points lower for Black students than their white peers. Among Black students who do attend a four-year college, the six-year graduation rate is just 40%.

As the head of F5’s Global Good program, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know the people at Rainier Scholars and their extraordinary academic preparation and leadership development program for hard-working, underrepresented students of color. This intensive, 12-year program provides personalized support to 60 new students each year from the fifth grade through college—with the goal of increasing college graduation rates and empowering new generations of leaders who reflect the diversity of our community.

The program begins in the fifth grade with 14 months of challenging summer school, after-school, and Saturday instruction aimed at building academic skills and cultural identity. From the sixth grade through college graduation, students take part in weekly tutoring, skill-building workshops, cultural activities, and annual retreats—all designed to foster the skills needed for academic success. 

Throughout the program, students attend leadership workshops and retreats. They get help navigating the college application process and applying for summer internships. And they receive personalized academic and career counseling to help them prepare for four-year colleges and their professional careers that follow.

Early last year we met with Rainier Scholars at the F5 Tower and was impressed by this organization’s commitment and passion. Since its inception two decades ago, Rainier Scholars has achieved remarkable results that are transforming the lives of underrepresented youth. An astounding 99% are admitted to four-year colleges and universities. Moreover, 93% of Rainier scholars have either graduated or are on track to graduate from college. For context, the national college graduation rate for students seeking bachelor’s degrees at four-year institutions is just 62%.

To further this important work, F5 recently awarded Rainier Scholars a $500,000 unrestricted grant. The grant is a key component of our F5 Black Education Empowerment Initiative, a $700,000 commitment designed to empower Black youth. As part of this initiative, F5 will support digital access for students of color across the state of Washington. We will also award 20 college scholarships to youth interested in technology careers and encourage historically underrepresented students to apply.

Rainier Scholars believes that education is the key to changing a life trajectory, and the nonprofit is doing exactly that through its strong commitment to supporting students of color on their 12-year journeys to college graduation and lives of leadership.

Thank you, Rainier Scholars, for your hard work and commitment. We’re thrilled to support this inspirational program and the profound impact it’s having on our community.

To learn more about Rainier Scholars and be inspired by their scholars, please attend the organization’s April 29 virtual annual luncheon.