Since banning the Confederate flag from its events in 2020, NASCAR has been working toward achieving greater diversity, equity, and inclusion in its ranks and beyond. On Sunday (Feb. 19), car racing’s governing body announced a new partnership with Bethune-Cookman University that aims to broaden the horizons of students at the Florida HBCU.
NASCAR’s Campus Lab Program is set to launch at Bethune-Cookman this fall. Designed for business majors and minors interested in pursuing a career in the sports industry, the effort seeks to educate BCU attendees with hands-on experience using a specialized curriculum.
“The NASCAR Campus Lab Program will provide exposure to the motorsports industry, career readiness guidance, and valuable real-world experience for Bethune-Cookman students,” Caryn Grant, senior director of NASCAR Diversity & Inclusion, said in a statement. “We look forward to developing the next generation of sports professionals while strengthening NASCAR’s relationship with this historic university.”
Bethune-Cookman was a natural choice for NASCAR to debut its Campus Lab Program. The school is located just three miles from NASCAR’s headquarters and the famed Daytona International Speedway. According to the company, Campus Lab enrollees will be charged with managing a budget provided to them and developing their own marketing campaign, as well as participating in a case study competition. Each trainee will also be paired with a mentor from NASCAR’s Black employee resource group and receive résumé and interview help to prepare them for life after college. NASCAR donated $100,000 to support the enterprise.
After the apprentices complete their studies, NASCAR will award them with a well-deserved scholarship. In addition, at least one lucky graduate will earn a spot in NASCAR’s highly competitive Diversity Internship Program for the following summer. Created in 2000, it is the industry’s longest-running diversity initiative and has welcomed more than 500 undergraduates over the past two decades.
“We’re extremely excited about the opportunity to expand our long-standing relationship with NASCAR and the Daytona International Speedway,” Dr. Lawrence M. Drake, Bethune-Cookman’s interim president, said of the collaboration in the joint statement. “The NASCAR Campus Lab Program will provide BCU students with direct access to NASCAR and the world of motorsports through experiential learning, mentoring, and professional support. We believe this kind of exposure will not only help our students further develop the skills and competencies they need to compete in the 21st-century knowledge economy, but will open their minds to an industry that probably wasn’t previously in their consideration set.”