Infor CEO Charles Phillips and other New York African-American business leaders have launched an initiative — in partnership with 20th Century Fox, Google, Facebook, Infor and AT&T — to offer free admission to the critically-acclaimed feature film "Hidden Figures" for over 25,000 middle-school students in New York.
"Hidden Figures" is the incredible untold story of critical contributions made by three African-American women working at NASA during the Space Race in the 1960s. Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Academy Award® winner Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) were the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, a stunning achievement that restored the nation's confidence, and galvanized the world. The visionary trio crossed all gender and race lines to inspire generations to dream big.
The screening program will educate students about the many contributions made by African-Americans and women to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and hopefully inspire more students to enter those fields.
"This initiative to promote STEM careers through this historical film dovetails perfectly with our own love of technology achievement at Infor, and our mission to increase the numbers of women and persons of color working in software tech," said Phillips, who leads the group of African-American business executives driving the opportunity, along with Ken Chenault, chairman and CEO of American Express, and William M. Lewis Jr., co-chairman of investment banking at Lazard.
Infor and Phillips, personally, through the Phillips Charitable Foundation, work with and support a variety of organizations that promote STEM for minorities and women, including CodeNow, Women Who Code, PBS SciGirls, Girls Inc. of NYC, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC, which earlier this year recognized Phillips for his contributions. In September 2014, Infor created the Infor Education Alliance Program, which partners the company with colleges, universities, and organizations like the New York Urban League to provide critical skills training for new economy jobs. Over the past two years, the Infor EAP has touched more than 1,400 students and placed approximately 200 in employment at Infor, its partners, and its customers.
" 'Hidden Figures' provides an important platform from which teachers and students, especially girls, can engage in discussions about STEM, the role of women in the workplace, and the contributions of African-Americans," said Linda Curtis-Bey, New York City Public Schools executive director of STEM.
New York schools are the first to benefit from the project. Like the 2015 project begun by Phillips and friends to screen Oscar-winner "Selma" — which reached 300,000 students across the country — the expectation is that other cities will join this important program as it rolls out in theaters nationwide.