Big Four PricewaterhouseCoopers has given out $500,000 in grants to four universities as part of their broader effort to promote and support the recruitment and advancement of diverse students within the accounting profession.

The four schools – Bryant University, the University of Southern California, Wake Forest University and Florida International University – will use the funds for scholarships and hands-on career exploration programs for students from groups that have historically been underrepresented in the accounting field.

The PwC grants expand existing programs to address a need to attract and develop more diverse talent in the accounting profession. As of 2008, African American/blacks represented only four percent of public accounting professionals at all career levels and Latinos represented just five percent, according to

The grants are being divided up as follows:

•    Bryant University - $150,000 for a three-year extension of the
      PricewaterhouseCoopers Accounting Careers Leadership Institute
      (PwCACLI), a week-long, hands-on immersion program for diverse high
      school juniors to learn about the accounting profession and its key
      role in society. Students will work directly with Bryant faculty,
      staff and students, as well as PwC professionals, to gain valuable
      experience and insight into accounting careers.

•    The University of Southern California - $150,000 for funding of PwC
      scholarships for diverse students entering the USC Leventhal School of
      Accounting Masters Programs. Grant funds will also be used to actively
      recruit students from historically black colleges, as well as diverse
      students from other schools.

•    Wake Forest University - $150,000 for multi-year funding of PwC
      scholarships for diverse students entering the Master of Science in
      Accountancy program. The grant will also establish and support a
      summer seminar to increase awareness of the accounting profession
      among diverse regional high school students and incoming freshmen.

•    Florida International University - $50,000 to initiate a six-day
      residency program aimed at diverse community college students who are
      interested in accounting careers. Community colleges are the largest
      and fastest growing sector of U.S. higher education, serving more than
      11.7 million students, 30 percent of whom are African-American, Latino
      or Native American, according to the American Association of Community
      Colleges. The FIU program was designed with the unique community
      college transfer environment in mind.