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John R. Lewis award winner details idea at the ‘intersection of technology and racial justice’

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John R. Lewis 2022 Case Competition winner Vivian Chong joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss her team's proposal of investing in a tech hub based in Atlanta, identifying racial tech gaps across industries, and the prospective participants for this educational training program.

Video transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING]

- Welcome back Emory University's Goizueta Business School held its second annual John R Lewis Racial Justice Competition this year, honoring the late congressman and civil rights activist John Lewis. Students and universities across the country took part, and were matched with companies looking to address issues of racial justice. This year, teams of students from more than 40 schools applied, and the Yale team was just announced the winner.

Vivian Chong, Yale School of Management first-year MBA student and John R Lewis case competition 2022 winner, joins us now. Vivian, congratulations. And tell us about your proposal and your experience in this competition.

VIVIAN CHONG: Yeah, absolutely. So the problem statement that we were given was essentially to build a racial justice tech hub in a US city of our choice. So we decided that we wanted to build the tech hub in Atlanta, based on our research, and build it based on the data that we collected and all of the racial tech gaps that we had identified based on our research. So our three pillars include training and upskilling, potential learners, collaborating for innovation to actually build solutions, and then which then upskills them to then enter into jobs in the tech industry so that they can then mentor people back into our tech hub.

- So the award that you'll receive, I imagine that will help attract other funds to get the tech hub up and running. Are there timelines by which people can start, you know, the women and different people who would be eligible to take advantage of this, will be coming to you?

VIVIAN CHONG: Yeah, so we had initially proposed to have a pilot phase of 12 months to really experiment the hub with the hub sponsor company, which is IBM. So within those first 12 months, we have allocated a smaller number, a smaller level of funds that we needed to get the hub up and running. But then for years two and three, we would definitely be more equipped to receive more funding from different grants and sponsors once we have a better idea of what we need.

- How did your specific idea and proposal come about, and what personal or professional experiences from you or your team members contributed to this?

VIVIAN CHONG: Yeah, absolutely. So the idea kind of came about because we kind of composed a team based on our interest in the intersection of technology and racial justice. And we wanted to propose a solution that would sustainably target gaps in the tech industry.

And so we identified different particular racial tech gaps, and also identified the US city that would most benefit for this racial tech hub, which was Atlanta. And actually, the connection to Atlanta is a bit personal to me, as well. I had lived in Atlanta for the past four years. And just being able to witness the collective action within the city-- and of course it's the host city of Emory's Business School, as well, who hosted the case competition-- it really inspired me to actually want to go to business school to make change that would be sustainable and business-minded, as well.

- My brother and his wife are Emory grads. They live in Dunwoody. So familiar with the part of the country that I think you have an affectionate bond to. Obviously, you're going to be a part of the tech hub. Do you have a sense of the people who are going to be coming to you? Are we talking about perhaps college students, or are we talking about post-college students? Or is this going to be wide open to get all kinds of people involved?

VIVIAN CHONG: Yeah. So actually, the learners that we had identified that there aren't being served as much are actually people who may or may not have four-year degrees, maybe in low income communities or lower paying work who are looking to transition into a tech career that might or might not need a four-year degree. So we have proposed to partner with employment assistance agencies that might not even, like-- that might not even specialize in placing people into tech jobs. We really wanted to expand the breadth of opportunity to give to people who might be interested in a tech career, but might not have the access and resources to do so.

- Vivian Chong is Yale School of Management first-year MBA student and winner of the John R Lewis case competition 2022. Congratulations again, and thank you again so much for your time.

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