Gen Z hair care brand Next of Us [NOU] is launching a fund that looks to supplement unpaid or low-wage interns, many of whom are Gen Z.

Called The Next of Us Intern Opportunity Fund, the effort has been created in partnership with Pay Our Interns, a leading non-profit organization committed to equitable career access and paid internships. The fund will award $50,000 in need-based stipends to college students to cover living and educational expenses including food, housing, transportation, or family care/contribution. Between February 16 and March 31, 2022, students can apply for grants at the Pay Our Interns website.

NOU was developed in fall 2021 by Procter & Gamble in response to growing demand for clean products for textured hair.

“NOU believes in the power of the next generation to make the world better for themselves and generations to come,” said Lela Coffey, Vice President, Multicultural Hair Brands and North America Hair Care Portfolio, P&G Beauty. “We are proud to partner with Pay Our Interns to establish a program that tangibly serves the unique needs of Gen Z communities of color, helping to make their hair and life journey a more fulfilling experience.”

Unpaid Internships Create Financial Burden for BIPOC Gen Zers

While internships are essential to breaking into professional industries and gaining practical experience, many internships create a financial burden, especially in young communities of color. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ (NACE) 2019 Student Survey1, 6 percent of Black students and fewer than 8 percent of Latinx students had a paid internship experience. Students from low-income backgrounds were more likely to work jobs or internships that limit their long-term career goals, prevent expansion of their professional networks, and impact their overall performance.

Pay Our Interns works to achieve equitable career path access for all students by identifying gaps and establishing benchmarks; shifting perceptions and spotlighting the growing role of internships in today’s economy; and activating stakeholders to take action toward ending unpaid internships. The organization aims to develop pathways for advancement, with the objective of creating a more equitable workforce, more diverse leadership across all sectors, and a more just world.

“We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with Next of Us on the Intern Opportunity Fund,” said Carlos Mark Vera, Executive Director of Pay Our Interns. “NOU’s mission to support Gen Z and ensure equity and representation in hair care aligns closely with our ongoing work to increase diversity in our overall workforce.”