Summit Academy OIC banking on new training program to change the face of finance in Twin Cities

Every year, roughly a thousand students at Summit Academy OIC study everything from IT technical support to construction to healthcare. Now the vocational school is banking on getting its graduates into a new line of work.

"So our target student for this program is really going to be somebody who loves learning, is ready to jump in and do something new," said Miriam Williams, Summit Academy OIC's chief academic officer.

Next March, Summit Academy plans to begin a training program to help students break into a career in financial services. 

School officials say they developed the program after they were approached by several banks to address the lack of Black and people of color in the industry.

"Knowing that having somebody that you trust in financial services to go to when you have questions is a really big concern for the banking industry in particular because they want to ensure that ultimately the impact that they make on the community is having more people of color as homeowners," said Williams.

Summit Academy is partnering with 15 local businesses, including Minnesota's first Black-owned bank, First Independence Bank.

School officials say the financial services industry can be a little intimidating for many people of color to pursue as a career.

"Most folks will go into industries that they're really familiar with or know people in. So the problem has sort of compounded itself because if you don't know anybody in the industry, then you don't often see that as an option for yourself," said Williams.

School officials say the 20-week program will prepare students for jobs as bank tellers, mortgage loan processors, and insurance brokers and to hopefully help change the face of finance in the Twin Cities in the process.

"We want them out of poverty and to be on a path to the middle class and beyond."