Vulcan Materials breaks new ground with THE YARD and Historically Black Colleges and Universities

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A large and diverse group gathered together for the announcement of the Vulcan-HBCU partnership through THE YARD.
International Debate Team Champions Texas Southern University, Vulcan Materials Executives, THE YARD Leadership Team, U.S. Conference of Mayors President Steve Benjamin (Center), African American Mayors Association President Oliver Gilbert (next to Benjamin)

Birmingham’s Vulcan Materials Company announced plans this week to support academic excellence programs at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The new grant initiative will support select Historically Black Colleges and Universities in key areas of the Southeastern United States that are part of the Company’s nationwide footprint.

Columbia, South Carolina Mayor Steve Benjamin is President of the U.S. Council of Mayors. At a meeting he hosted, this idea was born.
Steve Benjamin, President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Photo from Facebook

Vulcan announced its new HBCU initiative at the close of the April 24 Houston meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Conference President Stephen Benjamin, Mayor of Columbia, South Carolina, has focused on innovation, inclusion and infrastructure as hallmark issues for the Conference.

Vulcan executives began discussions with Mayor Benjamin and other U.S. mayors and educators on these issues over the last year, which led to the development of this initiative.

We are delighted and honored to begin this partnership with these key institutions of higher learning. Historically Black Colleges and Universities have been leadership laboratories in America for more than 150 years and their value as part of the fabric of American life has never been more important.

Our company is committed to creating new opportunities for rising young leaders, further building on our long-term diversity and inclusion and workforce development initiatives. This is vitally important to us, as is our commitment to superior safety and environmental performance—and to supplying essential infrastructure materials used throughout the U.S. economy.

Vulcan Materials Company Chairman and CEO Tom Hill

What is THE YARD?

Chuck Faush of THE YARD, HBCU leaders and other stakeholders at a U.S. Conference of Mayors roundtable in January 2019
HBCU leaders and stakeholders at a U.S. Conference of Mayors roundtable in January 2019

THE YARD is the HBCU platform for using tech, talent and culture to empower HBCUs. They aim to empower HBCUs by creating sustainable career pipelines, driving inclusion from classrooms to boardrooms.

Vulcan Materials + HBCUs: a win-win

Vulcan Materials is partnering with HBCUs.

For the past year, Vulcan has been working to strengthen its relationships with HBCUs that are within the company’s footprint.

“A more diverse workplace benefits our organization by bringing new perspectives to the business. It advances productivity and performance and improves our ability to appeal to a diverse marketplace.

Darren Hicks, VP Human Resources at Vulcan
Darren Hicks, Vulcan Human Resources VP
Darren Hicks, Vulcan Human Resources VP

Participating HBCUs win, with a strong Fortune 1000 partner, who provides the scholarships and internships for students who win “pitch competitions”—these will be judged by university leadership and Vulcan representatives including Diversity & Inclusion Council members.

Eligible students will ideate design and recommend ways to make improvements in innovation and infrastructure that businesses, higher education and government could support. And, interns with Vulcan have the prospect of potential full-time employment upon graduation.

Additionally, campuses have been targeted to receive facility enhancements, turning traditional college work spaces into tech-friendly study centers.

These will be themed as immersive experiences, giving up close and personal interaction with Vulcan environments—from shipyards to quarries to management and leadership experiences.

There will be opportunities to design future-ready campuses and communities, giving insight on insight on growing local economies.

Vulcan mutually benefits with support for their workforce development and strategic recruiting initiatives, access to the best and brightest under-tapped diverse talent and broader community development.

THE YARD tour starts in Fall 2019

HBCUs can help produce valuable long-term employees for Vulcan Materials.
From hbculifestyle.com

This Fall THE YARD tour launches in South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, and North Carolina. In 2017, there were 102 HBCUs located in 19 states, with the vast majority located in the South.

Vulcan Materials Company plans to mix visibility, outreach and recruiting at homecomings and Classics where there will be opportunities for structured interactions with students who are prospective employees.

Vulcan leads the way

David Donaldson, Vulcan VP for External Affairs and Corporate Communication and Darren Hicks, Vulcan Human Resources VP
David Donaldson, Vulcan VP for External Affairs and Corporate Communication, Darren Hicks, Vulcan Human Resources VP

This initiative is an important one for Vulcan, and represents its most significant support of HBCUs to date. According to David Donaldson, Vice President for External Affairs and Corporate Communication, “Our Foundation’s Board of Trustees strongly supported this initiative because it underscores our commitment to building stronger communities, and the HBCU community is vital to our ongoing success and growth.”


Though HBCUs are super-important—historically and culturally–throughout the Southeast, they’ve faced mounting challenges in recent years. With programming support from THE YARD, The Vulcan-HBCU partnership’s triple focus on scholarship funding, internship and employment opportunities and essential capital improvements will be a game-changer.

The Foundation grant will be supported with activations on campuses and at events to drive engagement with students and key community stakeholders.

Vulcan Materials Company's shipyards, distribution yards and quarries are coming to HBCU yards to support and recruit the best and the brightest.
A Vulcan shipyard . . .

We are excited that Vulcan shipyards, distribution yards and quarries are literally coming to HBCU yards to support and recruit the best and brightest. The totality of their commitment exceeds seven figures when including our ultimate goal of employment and careers for HBCU graduates.

Chuck Faush, co-founder of THE YARD

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Author: Sharron Mendel Swain

Writer, Interviewer + Adventurer | Telling stories to make a difference