MLT Blog

Investing in Black Futures: Preparing Fellows to Lead in the Alternative Asset Industry

By: Day Rankin

The AltFinance Fellowship launched in 2021 as a partnership between AltFinance, Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT), several historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), and the Wharton School. The AltFinance Fellowship helps eligible HBCU students become investors in the high-growth alternative asset industry.

We caught up with Adia Haynes and Aiyanna Manning to learn more about their experiences as AltFinance Fellows. The two share details on the future of their finance careers and what they’ve learned since joining the program. 


A Safe & Supportive Environment to Develop Alternative Investment Skills


Black and white headshot of Adia Haynes, Spelman student and AltFinance FellowAdia Haynes

AltFinance Fellow


Adia was born and raised in Midland, Michigan alongside three siblings. She is a rising senior, computer science major at Spelman College. 


MLT: What led you to join AltFinance?

Adia: My growing curiosity and passion for understanding financial concepts. Also, the challenge and opportunity to learn from the brightest and most genuine coaches and minds. 

What were your expectations going into AltFinance?

At the very least, I knew I would learn, but the AltFinance Fellowship has certainly exceeded my expectations. It has provided me with a safe, supportive, and competitive learning environment! 

Did AltFinance help prepare you for anything in the industry (or shed light on an aspect of the industry that you weren’t aware of)?

Yes… [The program has] taught financial concepts, terminology, and financial statements, which I have a goal of improving as I continue. AltFinance also exposed me to what I can accomplish with my skills in computer science and passion for finance.

What has been your favorite event or part of AltFinance?

My favorite event has been the first seminar in Atlanta, Georgia, at the Atlanta Hawks Stadium. Although nerve-racking, I was able to receive invaluable feedback after my mock interview. I greatly enjoyed expanding my professional network and hearing advice from professionals on the panels. It really set the tone for the rest of the fellowship! 

What are your career goals? How has AltFinance helped you define them?

[My]…short term…[goal]… is to complete a successful summer internship at Apollo Global Management on the Digital Assets team and complete my computer science degree, with honors, at Spelman College. Long-term,…[my goal]… is to increase my knowledge of the alternative investment industry and discover/shape how cryptocurrency and blockchain play a role within it–ultimately establishing a firm foundation of skills that will allow me the opportunity to earn a full-time position at a Top Alternative Investment Firm. The AltFinance Fellowship has opened up this opportunity, and I will be forever grateful! 

Mentorship & Guidance from Diverse Leaders in Alternative Assets Industry


Color headshot of Aiyanna Manning, Spelman HBCU student and AltFinance fellowAiyanna Manning

AltFinance Fellow


Aiyanna is from Valdosta, GA. She is a third-year biology major, economics minor attending Spelman College. 



MLT: What led you to join AltFinance? 

Aiyanna: At the start of my sophomore year, I began to explore finance and consider careers within the industry. However, I still had a passion for healthcare and wanted to learn as much as I could about the synergies between finance and my major. I had the privilege of participating in semester-long investment banking and venture capital programs that year and observed how innovative the alternatives space was becoming with impact investing. After joining the executive team of the Emory Center for Alternative Investments, I knew a challenging and dynamic career like private equity would be best for me. Months later, I was notified of the AltFinance fellowship from the Economics department of my college and was compelled to apply as soon as possible. It has been one of the best decisions I have made since arriving at Spelman. 

What were your expectations going into AltFinance?

I expected the curriculum of the program to be rigorous, but not as guided and interactive with team-building exercises and mentorship. From the active learning sessions, I became much more intellectually curious and confident. The process of problem-solving and making investment decisions in teams also encouraged me to use my voice. 

Did AltFinance help prepare you for anything in the industry (or shed light on an aspect of the industry that you weren’t aware of)?

One of the most thought-provoking books I’ve read this year has been The Class Ceiling by Sam Friedman and Daniel Laurison; This novel sheds light on how race and class have played an immense role in recruitment for prestigious careers, such as finance. The AltFinance team has done a tremendous job of not only preparing students for technical interviews, but also highlighting informal aspects of the traditional recruiting process. Since the start of the program, I have been given mentorship and guidance from diverse leaders at the partner firms about networking, maintaining relationships, and adding value with my unique background and perspective. The MLT and partner-firms mentors allocate time toward ensuring fellows are at their best, which I believe is the most special attribute of the program. 

Aiyanna practicing mock interviews and elevator pitches during the first AltFinance in-person workshop at State Farm Arena.

What has been your favorite event/part of AltFinance?

My favorite event of AltFinance has been the Atlanta Bootcamp thus far. We were granted the opportunity to complete mock interviews, elevator pitches, and a financial modeling workshop in the StateFarm Arena. On the final day, we watched the Hawks game in a suite and also met the mayor of Atlanta! 

What are your career goals? How has AltFinance helped you define them?

In the future, I plan to become a senior-level investor/partner at an alternative investments firm. AltFinance has made a conscious effort of bridging the gap between minority students and successful investors and leaders within the space. At our DC Bootcamp, we had the pleasure of meeting Sherrese Clarke Soares and Daphne Dufresne. After hearing their personal stories and speaking with them directly, I gained clarity on the long-term value I plan to add to the financial industry as an impact investor.


Intensive preparation, mentorship, and guidance for breaking into alternatives.

Learn more about the AltFinance Fellowship developed for students at HBCUs.