Project 99

Creating workplaces where everyone feels seen, heard, and valued.

Photo of Yulkendy Valdez
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Eligibility: Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?

  • No

Website or social media url(s) (optional):

Date Started


Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Start-Up (first few activities have happened)

1. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project? NOTE: All applications must include a 1 minute video that answers: “I am stepping up to make change because..."

2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Black and Latino professionals are 3x more likely than their counterparts to “drop out” of their jobs (HR Council). The main reason they are leaving, cited 38% of the time, is unfair treatment at work, from daily microaggressions to discriminatory practices (Kapor). This most affects millennials, which are 43% Black and Latino and will be 75% of the workforce by 2027 (Deloitte).

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Ursula Burns, former CEO of Xerox and the only African American woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company said in a Fortune article “that fostering relationships between senior managers and young black woman [and other underrepresented groups] is a crucial step that almost never happens”. As Burns and other senior leaders recommend, we need to create intentional pathways for connection between ambitious young people and corporate executives. Human connection and authentic relationships based on empathy have the power to eliminate workplace bias. Our bold idea is our newest program, Gen2Gen. Gen2Gen is a 6-month reverse mentoring program for cross-sector business leaders and diverse young professionals, focused on equipping senior leaders with the cultural competency and inclusive leadership skills needed to manage a diverse workforce.

4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

SAP is our first corporate partner. On Oct. 6, we facilitated a 1-day pilot for 22 professionals and 5 managers at their U.S headquarters in Philadelphia. The majority of participants were from the Black and Latino Employee Networks. The goal of the workshop was to provide the participants a space to have their voices heard regarding the topic of race in the workplace. In terms of outcomes, SAP wanted to raise employee engagement. Our pre- and post-surveys determined that engagement was raised by 10.51%. One participant called the workshop "a fascinating experience" and said; "This really brought a group of like-minded folks even closer than normal”.

5. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

Cross-Sector: “We are breaking the silos”. Our programs are not just for “minorities”. We are a program where professionals of all backgrounds navigate taboo conversations around race and work together to develop solutions to foster a workplace that works for all. Retention tool: “We are making sure that people of color are not only getting a seat at the table but staying long enough to have a voice”. We are giving the visibility that professionals of color deserve to advance in the workplace.

6. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

Funding: 30K for pilots in Latin America + 37K from earned revenue Current Clients: SAP, Humano, MNN, Babson, and MICDS 30by2030 Summit: Convening 200+ people, creating large buzz in Boston Accelerators: Babson SVP, Babson WIN Lab, and Smarter In the City Work Experience: Goldman Sachs, Innosight, EY, KPMG, Accenture, BofA, and BNY Mellon Media: NBC, NPR, PBS, ESPN, BBJ, Boston Globe, BostInno, Color Magazine Awards: El Mundo Latino 30 under 30, recognized on stage by President Clinton at CGI U 2017 (we are 4-time CGI U Commitment) Speaking: One panel a week, including Deloitte Nonprofit Summit, Tech Inclusion New York, HubWeek, MIT, SXSW 2018 Meaningful Advisors: Over 300 advisors and over 40 C-suite/high net worth leaders including CEO of PwC U.S., CEO of Year Up, Mayor of Boston Advisory Board: Consists of 13 powerful leaders

7. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

In the next 10 years, Gen2Gen will train 2,500 executives and 10,000 young professionals across 10 U.S. cities. The first Gen2Gen program will launch in Boston with a cohort of 50 young professionals and 10 executives. Each executive will be matched to five young professionals. Throughout the 6-month programs, executives will meet with their group of young professionals for monthly workshops focused on leadership skills millennials are looking for in their leaders included but not restricted to authenticity, empathy, humility, and integrity. Towards the end of the program, executives along the young professionals will share what they learned through a 10-12 minute presentation at our annual conference.

8. Future Support: What are the resources needed to make your vision a reality?

We need funding and additional human capital to make our vision a reality.

9. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support
  • Sales
  • Mentors/advisors
  • Donations over $10k

10. Ripple Effect: Please share some ideas of how you could partner with other changemakers or involve other young people as leaders in making a difference.

We are happy to invest in our community and train youth development nonprofits/initiatives with limited resources. We are happy to work directly their youth and/or staff. We are stronger together. Inclusive collaboration makes it possible to change and redefine existing systems.

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?

  • Hispanic, Latino/a, or Spanish origin (for example: Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuba, Salvadoran, Dominican, Colombian) (7)
  • Black or African American (for example: African American, Jamaican, Haitian, Nigerian, Ethiopian, Somalian, etc) (8)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?

  • Communities of color
  • Low-income community

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Participated in previous Ashoka challenges
  • Ashoka page or contact
  • Article in the news

Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka or T-Mobile, who was it?

Startingbloc, 4.0 schools, and Resolution Project

This inspired (1)

In the Streetz


Join the conversation:

Photo of Ariyan Miller

Hey There Fellow Changemaker,

Congrats on moving to the next phase. I wishing you the best of luck ! & I am sending love and light to all the positive things that you do.

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