12 Jul 2023

Malcolm McClain (MBA/MPP 2023) Named First RISE Career Fellow

Inaugural Winner to Join Local Start-Up, BrightUp, Focused on Democratizing Wealth

BOSTON—Malcolm McClain (MBA/MPP 2023) has been named the first recipient of the Harvard Business School (HBS) RISE (Recognizing Individuals Seeking Equity) Career Fellow, with his income supplemented for one year following graduation so he can work with, learn from, and make a difference in a growing business that is creating economic opportunity for marginalized communities in the United States. McClain, who also completed a master’s in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, will serve as chief of staff at BrightUp, a seed-stage Boston-based fintech company focused on democratizing wealth building and well-being.

The fellowship’s unique model provides funding for one graduating student to join an organization dedicated to creating local financial and business opportunities. The RISE Career Fellow selects a company and partners with its leadership to design a one-year position that utilizes their MBA skills to bring significant value and capacity to both the business and its community.

Leading into his first year at HBS, McClain was a summer fellow with the Harlem Children’s Zone, an education non-profit that aims to end intergenerational poverty in central Harlem and other historically distressed communities nationwide. He later served as an HBS Rock Center for Entrepreneurship Summer Fellow, working to address the labor shortage within the restaurant industry, developing service models to protect and empower restaurant workers, and providing the tools for restaurant owners to become better employers.

“Throughout my career, I have explored how private capital and public resources can be leveraged to ensure people living in historically marginalized communities have the opportunity for economic mobility,” said McClain. “Post-graduation, I want to gain a better understanding of the challenges businesses face operating in marginalized communities, especially companies addressing the racial wealth gap. Working alongside BrightUp will enable me to gain first-hand experience with a Black founding team seeking to develop financial wellness tools and increased access to credit, especially for people who may be traditionally left out of capital markets.”

BrightUp blends technology and behavioral science to help under-supported people become more financially healthy, delivering services to the market as an employee benefit offered by enterprise-level employers, as well as to large community groups and their members.

In his role, McClain will design capital products, and identify and negotiate agreements with capital partners who provide fairly-priced funds for BrightUp’s users. He will also manage the customer experience and, leveraging pain points identified through user engagement, will develop approaches and services for employers, community leaders, and others to address user needs.

“Malcolm brings BrightUp investing, economic mobility, policy and fundraising experience,” said BrightUp founder Valerie Mosley. “He will play a significant role in helping to shape the future growth of our company, as we focus on wealth-building to dramatically uplift Black and brown communities and address racial inequities in America.”

“Through the RISE Career Fellow program, and with exceptional students like Malcolm, HBS can forge connections to companies like BrightUp that are having a deep impact on marginalized communities across the country,” said Alicia Thomas, director of diversity and inclusion for HBS’s MBA and Doctoral programs. “In addition to helping develop leaders, the program exposes graduating students to non-traditional fields, and gives those organizations dedicated to creating local business opportunities access to MBA skills.”

HBS previously launched the RISE Fellowship for financial aid, which awards $10,000 to up to 10 MBA students in each class who have demonstrated exemplary commitment to serving marginalized communities of color within the US prior to enrolling at HBS.

About Harvard Business School

Founded in 1908 as part of Harvard University, Harvard Business School is located on a 40-acre campus in Boston. Its faculty of more than 250 offers full-time programs leading to the MBA and PhD degrees, as well as more than 175 Executive Education programs, and Harvard Business School Online, the School’s digital learning platform. For more than a century, faculty have drawn on their research, their experience in working with organizations worldwide, and their passion for teaching, to educate leaders who make a difference in the world. The School and its curriculum attract the boldest thinkers and the most collaborative learners who will go on to shape the practice of business and entrepreneurship around the globe.