INCPAS Scholars Program
Ethnic diversity in the CPA profession has not kept up with ethnic diversity in the general U.S. population. Profession-wide commitment is necessary to move the needle and create a representative and inclusive profession, so we needed to create innovative solutions to encourage students from underrepresented backgrounds to consider accounting.
The award-winning INCPAS Scholars is a free, year-long program that offers minority high school students with an interest in business or accounting the opportunity to apply for and — if selected —participate in a wide array of career, college-prep and mentoring events, at the end of which they receive an academic gift and letter of recommendation. We currently host the program in two regions: Indianapolis and South Bend.
The events are comprehensive in preparing the students for academic and professional success.
Each Scholar is paired with a mentor, which plays a significant role in the success of the program. Each mentor shares his/her experiences with academic and professional life and works with their Scholar monthly to help plan for the future. This is particularly beneficial to students who are first generation college students.
The Scholars attend a “dress and dine” event to learn about proper business attire and pick out their own professional apparel, then learn business etiquette at an upscale restaurant.
They visit universities to learn about the campus and accounting major experience. Additionally, they visit local firms and companies to see firsthand the opportunities in the CPA profession.
The Welcome Night dinner enables the Scholars’ parents to get to know the program coordinators and learn more about what to expect, and College Night helps them prepare to send their children to college. The event focuses on admissions requirements, faculty and student insight and financial aid options.
For all Scholars (current and former), the mentors and Society provide support as they pursue their college degree and the CPA license and continue to involve them in the program by serving as a campus buddy, speaking on panels and recruiting future Scholars.
Since the Scholars program was launched in 2012:
- 200 Scholars have participated in the program, and we currently have 25 in 2019-20.
- 68% of INCPAS Scholars have or are pursuing an accounting or business degree, and all but 4 are in Indiana.
- 47% of Scholar alumni are CPA Exam eligible.
- 12 are currently sitting for the CPA Exam
- Many Scholar alumni been placed or hired at our member firms, and 3 served as accounting interns with the Society.
- We’ve raised $454,350 for diversity and inclusion efforts. And its importance at Indiana firms, companies, colleges and universities is only picking up steam—with 21 sponsors and $70,000 raised, this has been a record-breaking year for corporate support.
- Individual support is also on the rise. We currently have 55 volunteers and more members are contacting us about how they can get involved.
While our organization has worked really hard and been innovative in promoting diversity within the accounting profession in Indiana, I was somewhat hesitant initially to sign the CEO Pledge because of our internal lack of diversity. As a small organization with low turnover, frankly, we just aren’t diverse. But in considering the aim of the CEO Action Pledge, I realized this is a chance to showcase what we’ve done for the CPA profession and jumpstart our internal efforts. So we are making sure the hiring process gets updated and looking in new places for talent when we do have an opportunity to hire. There’s a lot more work to do, but the CEO Action Pledge has been inspiring for us.