Lou Capozzi, president of the PRSA Foundation, on Oct. 13 described efforts of the Foundation to increase minority participation in PR. Here are his remarks:

Last year Mickey Nall, 2013 PRSA chair, threw down the gauntlet, declaring diversity as a priority for PRSA, and Mickey’s support has been a great help to us.

 This year, 2014 chair Joe Cohen has built on Mickey’s efforts and has given amazing support to the PRSA Foundation during his term as president.

When I’m here in Washington, among the imposing Federal Buildings, I’m reminded of the famous quote from the city’s planner.

“Make no small plans,” he said. “They have no magic to stir men’s souls.

Well, we’ve got big plans at the PRSA Foundation We’re out there doing our best to make a difference.

With the help of thousands of PRSA members, and with the support of generous major donors, we made grants this year of over $125,000.

We’ve built five diversity initiatives and we’ve launched two major research studies.

We’re working to attract more ethnic and racial minorities, with a focus on African American and Hispanic students, to encourage them to choose public relations as a career, and to make them better prepared when they get here.

Our profession has been dramatically under-represented in these key communities.

As you can see here, African-American and Hispanic Americans make up only about 10 percent of all public relations professionals, while they’re 30 percent of the American population overall, and will grow to 50 percent by 2050.

For a field that has, at its core, responsibility to represent the interests of all stakeholders, this is something we’ve really got to do something about.

Our Foundation’s diversity initiative is a multi-pronged effort called PRIME.

That stands for Public Relations Internship, Mentoring and Education.

We’re working to help the profession truly represent the publics we serve, and to ensure we create an inclusive pipeline of the widest and best range of talent

Our PRIME program reaches inner-city high school kids in Chicago with a summer camp program that offers them a working public relations experience, and exposure to this exciting and growing field as a career option.

We’ve got a bi-lingual writing program at San Diego State to prepare Spanish Language students with the ability to write for the media equally well in both Spanish and English.We support Graduate Student’s of Color, to help them advance in their academic careers and become mentors for others.

And we’ve funded two broad-based studies to gather data on the challenges minorities face in entering the profession, and their experiences once they get here.

But perhaps most important is our partnership with the United Negro College Fund, to build a program for students in Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

It’s called the PRIME Scholars Program.

We’re working with UNCF to improve the PR programs in their schools, to recruit more talented students to those programs, and to make the students better prepared to compete for, and succeed in, internships, fellowships and eventually jobs.

All this work takes money, and we look for every opportunity to raise more.

So this meeting is no exception.

This is shameless panhandling, I know. But in those blue welcome bags if you dig down past the Twinkies you will find this (hold it up) little envelope.

Take it out of the bag, and then reach in to your pocket or purse and pull out some of this (hold up money), and stick it in the envelope.

Give it to one of the Foundation representatives in the back of the room as you leave this session today, or catch up with us during the conference.

Any amount is appreciated.