Last Mile Education Fund Announces New Investment From Philanthropist Ken Griffin
Citadel and Citadel Securities are Partnering with Last Mile to Empower Low-Income College Women to Complete Tech and Engineering Degrees
BALTIMORE; March 24, 2021 — The Last Mile Education Fund, which has launched a disruptive, new approach to improving diversity in the tech industry, just announced a $500,000 investment from philanthropist Ken Griffin, founder and CEO of Citadel.
The Last Mile Education Fund invests in low-income, underrepresented college students in high-demand technology and engineering fields, providing them critical resources to make it to graduation and launch their careers. Low-income students can often be derailed by emergencies and unexpected financial hurdles. Food insecurity, lack of money for rent or utilities, a broken computer, or insufficient funds for tuition can prevent talented students from completing their education. Last Mile provides just-in-time financial support to help students stay on track and boost the numbers of women entering technical fields.
“No barrier should stand between hardworking students and the pursuit of their dreams,” Griffin said. “I applaud the Last Mile’s commitment to opening doors for these students’ futures and am proud to support the work they’re doing to empower women in technology and engineering.”
Griffin’s commitment represents a meaningful increase in funding for Last Mile. The organization began as a pilot program in late 2019 with small planning grants. It ramped up quickly in 2020, distributing over $300,000 to 350 low-income students, proving its model and attracting more funds. Last Mile launched publicly on January 13, 2021 with $3 million in funding committed.
As part of this partnership, members of the Citadel and Citadel Securities teams will also provide one-on-one mentorship to students, including resume-writing workshops and interview preparation.
“Last Mile is pioneering a new approach to investing in emerging talent,” shared Ruthe Farmer, co-founder and CEO of Last Mile. “Instead of supporting outliers — which is how most scholarship programs work — we help a diverse range of striving students to succeed. We’re excited and encouraged by Ken’s commitment to help expand the numbers of women graduating and working in tech.”
The Last Mile Education Fund was inspired by the personal journey of co-founder Rian Walker. During a critical point in her academic journey, two key mentors (tech inclusion advocate Ruthe Farmer and computer science faculty member Dr. Sarah Lee) helped her and leveraged their professional networks to ensure she had the resources to access opportunities and complete her academic journey. Walker’s successful career trajectory prompted the three of them to create a scalable way to provide resources for more low-income women computing students. In addition to co-founding Last Mile, Walker is currently an assistant vice president and information security analyst at Bank of America.
About the Last Mile Education Fund:
Last Mile Education Fund helps boost diversity in tech and engineering fields by addressing critical gaps in financial support for low-income, underrepresented students within four semesters of graduation. By providing rapid, emergency and gap funding for unexpected financial challenges, Last Mile helps striving, low-income students make it to graduation so they can launch their careers. Once those students become working professionals, they help generate funding and awareness to help the next group of students coming up behind them. Last Mile is a fiscally-sponsored project of the Digital Harbor Foundation. For additional information, visit LastMile-ed.org.
Get the press kit about Last Mile Education fund here.