Seattle— Alaska Airlines’ “Our Commitment” aircraft took to the skies in partnership with UNCF (United Negro College Fund), a symbol of the airline’s promise to create a place where everyone sees themselves and belongs.
Designed with Alaska’s Air Group Black Employees, Allies and Advocates (ABEA) group to illustrate the airline’s belief in education as the great equalizer and as a critical component of creating sustainable racial equity, the aircraft features 14 profiles of the next generation of leaders: the children, grandchildren and mentees of Alaska’s employees.
The aircraft made its inaugural flight from Seattle to Washington D.C., on Tuesday, April 27, 2021.
“As a company, we know we are not yet where we need to be when it comes to diversity, but we are inspired and guided by our value to do the right thing. With this aircraft, we are doing the right thing by amplifying the conversation around education, equity and belonging and taking it to the skies,” said Ben Minicucci, Alaska Airlines CEO.
“This aircraft will continue to be an inspiration for us on the journey.”
The aircraft embodies Alaska’s long- term partnership with UNCF, the largest scholarship provider for students of color and an organization dedicated to enabling under-represented students to become highly-qualified college graduates.
“Our Commitment” will fly throughout Alaska’s network year-round spreading the word about UNCF and inspiring conversation around racial equity and the transformative impact of education in the lives of young people.
“While small in number, our HBCUs are landmarks to our past and keys to our future. They enable us to keep a legacy—by their very existence. HBCUs are much more than schools. They places where Black students can feel safe, welcomed, and embraced by the college community,” said Dr. Michael L. Lomax, president and CEO of UNCF.
“Additionally, the nation’s HBCUs make up just three percent of America’s colleges and universities, yet they produce almost 20 percent of all African American graduates and 25 percent of African American graduates in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics— the critical industries of the future.”
This special paint theme builds on more than 15 years of partnership, including Alaska employees and guests donating millions of miles to UNCF to fly students to college tours and campuses at numerous Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs). Alaska has committed to donating an additional 10 million miles over the course of the program and has also established a scholarship fund to help overcome the financial obstacles of getting a college education.
“As the only Congresswoman to graduate from Clark Atlanta University, I know firsthand how crucial a world-class education from an HBCU is to opening up pathways for success. Educational equity is the key to building a brighter, more inclusive future for all students, including those who are traditionally underserved. I was truly honored to join the inaugural flight from Seattle-Tacoma Airport to DC to celebrate this historic partnership between Alaska Airlines and UNCF to promote education, equity, and diversity,” said Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland.
Earlier in 2021, Alaska Airlines launched its new diversity, equity and inclusion commitments to increase BIPOC representation in leadership, continue to cultivate an inclusive culture and to lead publicly by supporting education on the path to equity. These goals include:
*By 2025, Alaska Airlines will increase racial diversity at all levels to at least 30 percent, including at the leadership level to reflect the diversity of its frontline employees.
*By 2025, Alaska will increase its “Inclusion Index Score” in its employee engagement survey by 10 points, reflecting its commitment to cultivating a truly inclusive culture where everyone feels like they belong.
*By 2025, Alaska will help create career pathways for at least 175,000 young people through continued partnerships with organizations like UNCF.
“As a leader in aviation, we have a responsibility to use our platform and voice to spark much needed conversations around the need for greater diversity, equity and inclusion within our industry, and that starts from the top down,” Alaska Airlines CEO Ben Minicucci said.
“Our greatest opportunity is to increase the diversity of our leadership levels to reflect the diversity of our broader employee population.”