Eric Williams was a freshman in high school who thought he could play sports forever. He grew up in Chicago and looked up to Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James.
“Honestly, I never really had a positive role model,” Williams told Yahoo Finance. “Someone that looks like me, someone who’s older than me to steer me in the right way other than athletics,” he said, “I feel like people of my generation feel like the only reason, or only way to become famous is through sports or through entertainment and things like that. But I feel like that’s not true.”
Williams, 21, no longer defines success in the same way he did in high school because of the transformative experience he had in JPMorgan Chase’s The Fellowship Initiative program. Launched in 2010, the program aims to improve the economic and social outcomes of young black men.
The six-year graduation rate for black students who started pursuing a bachelor’s degree at a four-year institution in fall 2010 was 40%, compared to 64% for their white peers, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. And the median white household is 10 times wealthier than the median black household.