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Published on April 17th, 2019 | by Jerry Doby


Hennessy Commits $10M to Propel African Americans into Leadership in Cooperation With the Thurgood Marshall College Fund

Hennessy and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) announce the launch of Hennessy Fellows, an unprecedented initiative for grad students designed to equip the next generation of multicultural leaders through financial assistance, access, and real-world application.

Dr. Harry L. Williams, the President and CEO of TMCF, and Jim Clerkin, the President and CEO of Moet Hennessy North America

Dr. Harry L. Williams, the President and CEO of TMCF, and Jim Clerkin, the President and CEO of Moet Hennessy North America

Less than 10% of Fortune 500 board seats last year were held by African American execs* and the world’s best-selling Cognac has committed $10 million over the next 10 years to offset just this, together with TMCF – considered the pre-eminent organization dedicated to promoting educational excellence among students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU).

A first-of-its-kind initiative built to flood the market with a diverse pipeline of highly qualified talent, Hennessy Fellows was inspired by factors relevant to the education landscape, including:

  • 36% of underrepresented minority students drop out of scholarship programs**
  • While 20% have not completed degrees after 7 years. A cited reason for this is lack of support: financial and beyond**
  • Most scholarships focus on undergrad, making post-grad level degrees less attainable to those who rely on financial assistance

Details on the launch of Hennessy Fellows is below – now accepting applicants for Fall 2019 at through May 5.


Hennessy has committed $10 million dollars over the next 10 years to the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) – the pre-eminent national organization dedicated to promoting educational excellence among students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). 

  • Following a thorough application process, the Hennessy Fellows program selects ten high-achieving, high-potential graduate students per year and offers them a one-of-a-kind opportunity.
  • Recipients will be awarded financial assistance towards collegiate graduate level education programs, as well as curated corporate development experiences, including training forums and networking to enhance the exchange of ideas and provide direct exposure to the inter-relatedness of corporate, social and economic systems.
  • Hennessy Fellows will accept applications through May 5, 2019. The 10 selected Fellows will be announced in June to receive benefits ahead of the Fall 2019 term.
  • The program is open to students enrolled in accredited HBCU or PBI Graduate programs, and offers the following:
  • 1:1 executive coaching
  • Up to $20,000 per academic year
  • $10,000 annual stipend for other educational expenses
  • Opportunity to compete for a community-related project grant up to $10,000
  • Access to online training forums, boot camps, networking events, and professional development experiences

Additional Background:

  • Hennessy continues its legacy of supporting the African American community
    • Hennessy’s partnership with TMCF adds to the brand’s long history of supporting the African American community in the U.S., dating back to the late 1800s. Hennessy leadership at the time was among the founders of what would ultimately become the National Urban League, paving the road for Hennessy’s involvement as first corporate sponsor of milestone organizations like the NAACP and Tuskegee Institute.
  • Consumers’ appreciation for craftsmanship has helped Hennessy remain the world’s best-selling Cognac
  • Hennessy champions those who inspire others by pushing the limits of potential
    • “Never stop. Never settle.” is what fuels one to push the limits of potential
    • Hennessy has a history of working with diverse cultural icons who push the limits of potential and “Never stop. Never settle.”
  • Hennessy’s 250+ year history of Cognac-making excellence epitomizes the brand’s “Never stop. Never settle.” mantra
  • Hennessy offers a robust collection of fine Cognacs
    • Hennessy has a Cognac for different consumer tastes, preferences and occasions
    • Hennessy believes in taking consumers on a journey through the portfolio
    • Hennessy V.S, V.S.O.P Privilege, X.O and rare Cognac collection (Hennessy Paradis Impérial)
  • TMCF
  • The Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) helps students with a clear intention to succeed acquire a high-quality college education at an affordable cost, efficiently connecting high performing, world-ready students with top tier employment opportunities—that students or employers might not have on their own
  • TMCF is the only national organization to provide this level of support to publicly-supported HBCUs, and to date has awarded more than $250 million in such assistance to its students and member-schools


*Source: Missing Pieces Report: The 2018 Board Diversity Census of Women and Minorities on Fortune 500 Boards; Deloitte and The Alliance for Board Diversity

**Source: Council of Graduate Schools

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About the Author

Editor-in-Chief of The Hype Magazine, and internationally published arts & entertainment journalist. Member of the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture as well as the United States Press Corps.

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