As the #1 most-watched news organization in the U.S., NBCUniversal News Group is committed to building a pipeline from classrooms to newsrooms to develop future leaders in the journalism and tech industries. NBCU Academy was designed to provide education, training, and mentorship to underrepresented students and early-career professionals from a wide range of characteristics, including gender, race, geography, socio-economic background, and perspectives. Since its inception in 2021, NBCU Academy boasts 45 partnerships with colleges, universities, and STEM programs across the country, in addition to providing a free online hub with journalism courses and tips from NBCU experts.
NBCU Academy developed the “Next Level Summit,” a free, all-day virtual event produced entirely by the NBCU News Group’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion team. Over the past year, NBCU Academy produced two more Summits that featured talent and executives across the NBCU portfolio and presented headlining sessions and breakout industry chats on storytelling, future of news in tech and digital, and more. The Summits engaged nearly 6000 participants, including students and media professionals worldwide.
The Summit included keynote speeches and breakout sessions feature industry leaders and innovators such as NBCUniversal News Group Chairman Cesar Conde, actor John Leguizamo, Universal Studio Group Chairman Pearlena Igbokwe, MSNBC President Rashida Jones, President and COO of Universal Orlando Resort Karen Irwin, Executive Producer Will Packer, NBCU News Group anchors and hosts Lester Holt, Sheinelle Jones, Gadi Schwartz, Joe Fryer, Yasmin Vossoughian, Richard Lui, Silvana Henao, Julia Boorstin and David Ushery discussed ways to take careers to the next level. Additionally, the Summits concluded with a career fair in which participants met virtually with NBCUniversal recruiters.
The development of the Academy was an intentional and targeted effort as part of a much larger concerted commitment by NBCU to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. Diversity may be the principle that draws attention, but equity and inclusion — meaning who has access to the room and who has a voice once they’re in that room — are often the toughest to achieve and sustain. Helping people attain access is a moral responsibility and needs to be a multipronged approach. The Academy’s Next Level Summit provides this access, making sure people from every community know that a career in journalism — and a ramp to other opportunities in media, marketing and technology — is available to them.
In 2020, NBCU News Group Chairman Cesar Conde established a bold initiative to build trust with its widely diverse audiences by increasing diversity among team members by gender, race, geography, socio-economic background and perspective. Conde appointed Yvette Miley, EVP of DEI, to lead NBCU Academy and provide tools, resources, and platforms for underrepresented voices in partnership with Historically Black Colleges, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, and colleges with significant Latino, AAPI, Black, Indigenous and tribal populations.
Next Level Summit breaks financial and geographical barriers by offering free online training and digital content. The initiative provides fellowships and job opportunities, career counseling, direct funding and course development to universities.
A concerted, division-wide effort to promote the Next Level Summit led to its highest attendance ever with more than 6000 participants. Previous and current students have raved about the academy calling it innovative, fast-paced, exciting, encouraging, dynamic, and life changing. This news is a huge development for NBCU’s overall continued diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts within and outside the News Group.
Building off of that success, NBCU Academy is heading into its fourth Next Level Summit, its largest effort yet coming up on October 19 and its first ever with a live studio audience.