While the newest cohort of the Verizon Adfellows program won’t be spending half a year in New York City this year, they’re getting a prime seat at the table with big brands and agencies.

The Entry-Level Marketer Diversity Pipeline Scholarship has practically started its fourth year today. The 27 participants, who either have marketing experience or are making a career change, will have the opportunity to take part in dedicated tracks that focus either on creative or analytical / insight. The ultimate goal of the program is to recruit 90% of participants to full-time positions.

With the pandemic driving all personal programs high, Verizon will be rolling out new educational tools and training for fellows, increasing the number of marketing thought leaders, and pairing each participant with an Adfellows alum for remote mentoring and networking in the previous classes to facilitate the program.

Verizon is also expanding Adfellows’ brand and agency partnerships. IBM, Visible and Amobee are joining American Express, Walmart and Anheuser-Busch as brand partners, while Madwell, Pentagram and EP + Co are included as agency partners in a list that already includes WPP’s list of agencies.

Diego Scotti, EVP and CMO of Verizon, who founded the program in 2017, told Adweek that it is a priority for Adfellows to customize the program in the midst of the pandemic to give them “an experience that is fully immersed in the marketing industry” .

Scotti also encourages industry leaders to work with Adfellows so that everyone can “work together to truly create a diverse pipeline.”

“I want other marketers to know that there is a huge variety of talent out there,” he said. “I often hear that executives don’t hire different talents because they can’t find them. They just don’t look tough enough. “

After six months of mentoring, Scotti hopes Adfellows will leave the program knowing “their voice matters and the industry needs their perspective”.