In the Association of International Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) “2019 Accounting Graduates Supply and Demand Report,” a key statistic sparked a change. The report’s breakdown of accounting graduates by race and ethnicity indicated a serious problem: Native Americans only represented .03% of professionals with both a BA and MA in accounting. Individuals holding both degrees are most likely to achieve the CPA designation. In turn, only .02% of CPAs are Native American.
This proportion of Native CPAs and prospective CPAs has been considered insufficient to support the need for tribal economic development. To address this need and provide opportunities for Native Americans pursuing careers in accountancy, the American Indian Graduate Center created the Investing in Native CPAs program.
Addressing an Opportunity Gap
In December of 2020, the American Indian Graduate Center sought to empower Native accounting students with its Investing in Native CPAs program, a $2 million scholarship initiative. The program aims to fund scholarships over the next ten years for 150 Native students pursuing in accounting and finance. The scholarships will help students with tuition and the cost of exam fees for professional licensure. The program looks to create opportunities for economic leaders to emerge in Native communities.
In a press release, Executive Director of the American Indian Graduate Center – Angelique Albert – described the necessity of the scholarship as follows:
“To promote self-determination in Tribally driven economic development, it is critical to have a full spectrum of financial and accounting professionals. Through the Investing in Native CPAs Program, American Indian Graduate Center is developing a stream of Native CPAs and finance officers with the skill sets necessary to empower Tribal communities.”
Given the specific needs and financial challenges of tribal communities, a generation of Native CPAs has the potential to broaden the field of tribal accountancy and eventually extend opportunities to even more Native accounting students.
Efforts like the Investing in Native CPAs program are exciting for the entire field of accountancy. Opportunities for underrepresented populations can bring the profession essential new perspectives and help bring the benefits of accountancy to underserved populations. As strong proponents of diversity and inclusion in accounting, SDC CPAs and company co-founder Dee Studler, are eager to follow this program and see its results.