The New York State Society of CPAs’ Foundation of Accounting Education and Pace University recently toasted to the 25th anniversary of the Career Opportunities in the Accounting Profession (COAP) program.

Launched by Pace in 1987 to introduce minority high school students to the accounting profession where minorities are historically underrepresented, COAP hosts hundreds of students each year for five summer days at 10 college campuses in the state.

“We’ve done a very good job of attracting young minority students into the profession, helping them realize that accountancy can be a part of their dream,” said Joanne S. Barry, NYSSCPA executive director who helped launch the program in 1987, in a statement.

With early support from the National Association of Black Accountants and New York CPA firms and businesses, the program hosted only 25 college-bound students in its first year. Now, the program has 2,700 alumni.

Pace celebrated the 25th anniversary by welcoming high school juniors to its Pleasantville campus June 26-30.

The nine other colleges hosting the program included Adelphi University, University of Buffalo, Long Island University, SUNY New Paltz, University of Albany, St. Johns University, SUNY Oswego and Westchester Community College.

Former NYSSCPA president Bert N. Mitchell, whose tenure coincided with the program’s start and is founder and chairman of Mitchell & Titus, the largest minority-controlled CPA firm in the United States, made the statement: “When we started that program, the participants … had maybe never even seen a black CPA. Being a CPA was not an option” in their minds.

The COAP Program tailors curriculum to the minority participants while giving them access to role models and the corporate environment.

“This program is even more valuable than when it was introduced 25 years ago,” said C. Daniel Stubbs, Jr., director of the master of accountancy in financial accounting program at Rutger’s Business School and chair of the Pace COAP program, in a statement. “The increased access to information spurred by the Internet emphasizes the importance of our core courses, including the evolving role of accounting, financial statement analysis and ethics.”

The celebratory banquet June 30 welcomed past graduates and top CPA leaders.