Amid mild criticism from several industry executives, The Walter Kaitz Foundation completed its transformation from minority recruiter to fund provider last week, awarding $200,000 worth of grants to six organizations to support diversity efforts.
The grants were one of several Kaitz announcements during last week's National Show, which also included the appointment of Time Warner Cable chairman and CEO Glenn Britt as the foundation's new board chairman.
The financial grants were the first for Kaitz, which had come under fire in recent years over cable's poor overall record in recruiting minorities. Last year, the group decided to financially support the diversity efforts of other industry organizations through grants.
NAMIC and Women in Cable & Telecommunications each received a one-year, $50,000 grant for their respective minority recruitment and mentoring programs.
The organizations that received $25,000 grants: Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing; Cable and Telecommunications Human Resources Association; the Emma Bowen Foundation for Minority Interest in Media; and the National Association of Latino Independent Producers. All told, 21 companies or organizations applied for grants.
"These winning grantees — selected by our board — reaffirm our commitment to diversity," said Kaitz president Art Torres. "The Kaitz Foundation is now a reliable source of support for innovative efforts that produce real, concrete diversity results."
MORE COMING LATER?
Kaitz had allotted a total of $500,000 for grants, but Torres said the organization may convene a second round of grants, to be awarded later this year.
While companies that received grants the first time around will be eligible for additional funding, those that were denied will not be allowed to apply again, Torres said.
"Because of the time each of the board members took to evaluate the proposals, I don't think the proposals that were rejected this time around will be eligible," Torres said. "But the proposals that will be eligible may very well be those proposals that have received funding for one year."
Kaitz's announcement did not sit well with some executives who felt other, more deserving organizations committed to recruiting and mentoring qualified minority people for upper management positions within the industry were overlooked for grants.
"The T. Howard Foundation [which recruits minorities for the direct-broadcast satellite industry] consistently brings interns into the industry, so we are truly confused as to why the [Kaitz] Foundation turned down an opportunity to help bring young men and women into the industry," T. Howard Foundation executive director Cynthia Dinkins said.
Another industry executive, who wished to remain anonymous, questioned the criteria by which Kaitz will determine the overall success of the grants.
"At the end of the day, how many people will benefit, and what will be Kaitz's measurement as to determine whether it's been a success?" said the executive.
NEW WEB SITE
Along with the grants, Kaitz also unveiled a new Web site to support minority recruitment. The site (www.walterkaitz.org) includes areas in which minorities can post resumes and search potential job opportunities. Minority vendors can also post information about their businesses.
"This new Web site helps move all three of our important goals forward," said outgoing Walter Kaitz Foundation chairman and Landmark Communications Inc. president and chief operation officer Decker Anstrom in a statement. "The Kaitz Foundation's primary activities toward building a diversified cable workforce have changed — but our goal, and the goal of the cable industry, remains constant: to expedite greater diversity."
Britt, who assumes the Kaitz chairmanship immediately, will preside over the foundation's next meeting in September.
In accepting the position, Britt said recent industry mergers have made the need for diverse management and leadership all the more important, in order for the industry to remain tied to its customers.
"As chairman of the Walter Kaitz Foundation, I plan to work closely with Art Torres and the other industry organizations to ensure our grants program efficiently and effectively supports community, resource and work force development," Britt said.