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The Indiana Project prepares minority students to succeed in finance careers

Student who completed The Indiana Project
Ceremony Celebrating first Cohort Graduates
The Indiana Project
Posted at 6:44 AM, Feb 09, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-09 06:45:11-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Five Hoosier scholars will now be prepared to start new finance jobs, thanks to The Indiana Project, a new program for minority college students.

On Thursday, they celebrated passing the Securities Industry Essential Examination (SIE) an exam that will kick off their careers in a field where they're significantly underrepresented.

“It was an idea a couple of years ago now we’re here celebrating five graduates of the project that have passed their exams and now have wonderful jobs all across the country in the investment business,” said David Girton, Founder & CEO of the Indiana Project.

The four-month program was started in 2022 by Girton.

The long-time wall street professional says he saw the need for diversity in his field firsthand.

"According to a couple reports by the EELC there's less than five percent minority and two percent black that are in certain parts of these job,” Girton said. “We thought it was necessary to create a platform that would not only give the students a leg in passing the exam but also mentor them after they got in the job.”

Program graduates like Willard Gupton and Michael Walker Prado say they feel confident preparing to embark on their next chapter.

"I plan to start with Charles Schwab in mid march and just grow my career from there and like I said pull up others and help them see themselves in the industry the same way Mr. Girton and others here helped me see myself,” said Gupton.

"I think more minorities should know there are some exams in order to participate in financial industry. This program really helps students to get to know that,” said Walker Prado.

The program also gives students a chance to network with top professionals already in the field like City of Atlanta treasurer Courtney Knight who flew in Thursday for the special ceremony,

On top of giving students the tools they need to succeed, The Indiana Project's mission is to diversify wall street firms from within to help provide better opportunities outside of them.

"If you want to eradicate financial illiteracy one of the best ways is to have more black or brown people and women in this profession,” Girton said.

“Making sure that they're getting the fairness they [minorities] deserve when it comes to things like mortgages, loans, how to use the stock market. That kind of knowledge is really important for the advancement of minorities I believe,” Gupton said.

As of right now The Indiana Project partners with five Hoosier Colleges including Wabash College, Purdue University, Ivy Tech, Butler University and Indiana University.

They hope to expand outside of the state and include Historically Black Colleges and Universities for the next round of cohorts.