Apollo Global Management Inc., Ares Management Corp. and Oaktree Capital Management LP has agreed to launch a 10-year, $90 million, industry-first initiative“AltFinance: Investing in Black Futures.” The initiative is designed to diversify the alternative investment industry by attracting, training and providing career opportunities for college students attending three Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

AltFinance will be launched in partnership with Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College and Spelman College, and seeks to provide students with clear pathways to careers in the alternative investment industry. The initiative has three primary components: a mentored fellowship program, a tailored virtual institute and a scholarship program. Fellowships will provide select students at the partner HBCUs the opportunity to work directly with a mentor and learn the ins and outs of finance and alternatives. The fellowship program will be run in partnership with Management Leadership for Tomorrow, a national nonprofit organization working to ensure that Black, Hispanic/Latino and Native American people reach and thrive at the highest levels of corporate America. AltFinance fellows will also have access to needs-based scholarship funding.The goal is to ensure money isn’t a barrier to exploring and preparing for a career in alternative investments.

The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania has signed on to create a virtual institute to offer educational materials and tools necessary to excel in the alternative investment industry. The virtual institute will be open to interested students at all HBCUs, and will provide participants with relevant coursework and other supplementary content developed by top professors and finance professionals.

The AltFinance initiative will be administered by ALT Finance Corporation, a non-profit organization established by the three founding firms. Apollo, Ares and Oaktree will each contribute $3 million per year for 10 years, marking the first major multi-firm commitment to increase opportunities in the alternatives industry.

Apollo chief executive officer Marc Rowan said, “HBCUs have an incredible history of opening doors, and we are thrilled to partner with these institutions and our colleague firms to expand opportunities in alternative investing. At Apollo, we recognize that we have been the beneficiaries of opportunity, and that it’s incumbent upon us to create opportunity for a broader group of talent. Together with our partner firms, we conceived AltFinance as a high-touch, comprehensive program to not only introduce talented Black students to the industry, but also to provide training, support, mentorship and a clear pathway to careers in alternative investing. Through initiatives like AltFinance, we will continue to work to break down barriers and seed, catalyze and advance opportunities for great talent from diverse backgrounds.”

Ares Management chief executive officer and president Michael Arougheti said, “Ares is firmly committed to being an agent for positive change across our company and industry, and we believe we have the resources and passion to make a sustainable impact in the lives of others. Through our partners within AltFinance, and our groundbreaking partnership with three leading HBCUs, MLT and Wharton, we are accelerating our efforts to foster diversity both within our respective organizations and the alternative investment industry more broadly. Our objective is to provide these students with the knowledge, resources and employment opportunities needed to succeed and thrive as professionals. We are excited to be taking this momentous stride forward and hope we have inspired others in our industry to join us in our efforts in the future.”

Oaktree co-chairman Howard Marks said, “Success in our industry requires creative, often contrarian thinking and the avoidance of groupthink. This can be tough to achieve if the workforce – and particularly those in senior roles – mostly reflect a common background. Working with HBCUs will allow alternative investment managers to tap into a deep talent pool that this industry has often overlooked. Black scholars have always possessed the ambition and skill needed to succeed in alternative investing; only broad access to opportunities has been missing.”

“The alternatives investment industry is one of the most influential industries in the world,” said John Rice, founder and CEO, MLT. “It’s a field for smart, creative and passionate people who can develop and execute ideas that break the mold. HBCU students should be prominent among the next generation of leaders for the industry. AltFinance will be transformational for its future participants. They will have the chance to learn about investing and apply those skills to accelerate their trajectory as well as have a positive impact on our communities. It will be a game-changer for every one of them.”

“We are proud to play an important role in the creation of AltFinance which, through its efforts to support HBCUs, will make an immediate and positive difference for students of color,” said Erika James, dean of The Wharton School. “As the country’s largest business school, with a reach from pre-college students to C-suite executives, it is Wharton’s privilege to offer our world-class faculty and resources to those who are so deserving.”

Kirkland & Ellis LLP provided pro bono legal representation to ALT Finance Corp. in connection with its formation and the establishment of the AltFinance initiative.