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First Generation Professionals Initiative

Who are First Generation Professionals? First Generation Professionals are Trailblazers. They are one of the first in their immediate families to enter the professional work environment (i.e. parents’ careers consisted of traditional blue-collar positions or those not requiring a college education). They are professionals with varying socio-economic backgrounds, life experiences, skills and talents that diversify our workforce, and when leveraged, they help agencies optimally serve our diverse public. 

First Generational Professionals Trailer

First Generational Professionals Trailer

  • What is this next frontier of diversity and inclusion? And we

    feel that it is to focus on class and people who are the

    first. When I say the first, I mean people who are pioneers in

    their family. We've defined a first generation professional as

    someone who is one of the first in their immediate family to

    enter into the professional workplace. Meaning that their

    parents either held traditional blue collar positions or working

    class positions that didn't require a college degree. If we

    endeavor to have a work force that's representative of the

    diverse American population we serve and is drawn from all

    sections, don't we want to make sure that we don't impede

    opportunities for people who come from lower income

    backgrounds to be in this work force.

    To lend their knowledge of the communities that we serve. Class

    transcends all diversity dimensions. Race, gender,

    national origin, religion, it transcends all of that.

    Now draw on your background as a strength and leverage that grit,

    loyalty, and flexibility instilled in you by your

    parents. And empower yourself to realize your full potential.

    Coming from a first generation, low income background, I face

    challenges with navigating school resources, feeling

    supported and adjusting to social life on campus.

    In academic settings and extra curriculars I am involved with,

    it can be hard to relate to many of my peers who have the

    connections and networks that I just don't have.

    Having to balance work and school helped me develop a

    strong work ethic and a determination to succeed. I

    learn time management skills and how to develop my social


    And I think first generation professionals should be proud

    that they are trailblazers. You know they come from hard working

    families and they're expanding into this area of occupations

    that others in their family have not done.

    But we know that if we really believe in diversity and

    inclusion and we want people with different backgrounds and

    thoughts and perspectives, that's the exact mix we need.

    Because if you don't have tension in the workplace, you

    don't get creativity and innovation.

    But what I want all first generation professionals to know

    and those people who are allies to them and in their corner, is

    that "we should not be judged by the heights we have risen but

    from the depths we have climbed." And that's Frederick Douglass.

    Through out your life there will be a number of people who will

    doubt you but you do not get to be one of those people.

    This is just the beginning of the journey this is just

    starting the conversation.


We know that if we really believe in diversity and inclusion and we want people with different backgrounds and thoughts and perspectives, that's the exact mix we need. Because if you don't have tension in the workplace, you don't get creativity and innovation." - Tinisha Agramonte, Architect of the FGP Initiative


First Generation Professionals (FGPs) are smart, innovative, resilient, and motivated - the kind of people who make great leaders. Yet, some may face institutional barriers and personal challenges when traversing into the professional work environment. FGPs represent a promising resource, if we can ensure that our federal workplaces create a welcome and inclusive environment that enables them to thrive and successfully contribute to our mission accomplishment.

Still curious about what makes a First Generation Professional? Watch three engaging stories from First Generation Professionals here

Opportunity is within our grasp. There are first generation professionals in our ranks who have all the requisite qualifications, raw talent and ambition. They only need equitable access and opportunities. It is imperative that we implement an FGP program that will (1) raise awareness of this population of first generation professionals, (2) identify the systemic barriers, in the form of policies and practices, that may impede our ability to maximize and leverage them in our workforces and (3) implement programs that provide critical information and resources to realize their full potential.  FGPs provide intrinsic value to our workforces, especially if we can leverage not only their career-related qualifications, talents, skills, and abilities, but also their backgrounds and life experiences to provide culturally appropriate service to our diverse public constituents.  

First generation professionals have already passed through a gauntlet of new and bewildering experiences in life and in the academic world, long before they step through the door on the first day of their career as Federal employees. Personal victories have proven their grit, tenacity, determination and intelligence, yet they may still have challenges with (1) self-efficacy, (2) managing financial quagmires, (3) tapping into social networks and building social capital, and (4) navigating unwritten workplace rules and advancing in their career. These are some of the areas our research has identified as obstacles and that our program will focus on.

The idea is to start small, building a program for first generation professionals in the Federal government, in partnership with other federal agencies/departments and local colleges and universities with First Generation College Student Programs. The goal— to optimize the use of this valuable resource to achieve our collective federal agencies’ missions.

Missed out  on the 2019 First Generation Professionals Summit? See pictures and videos here!


FGP In the News:

Securities and Exchange Commission Hosts First Generation Professionals Workshop 

CyberFeds: Don't Overlook the Unique Skills of First Generation Professionals
Watch UDC Forum: First Generation Professional
CyberFeds: First-generation Professionals Bring "Cultural Competence" to the Workforce
Attachment Size
First Generation Professionals Announcement PDF 122.21 KB
Qualitative Research on Barriers to Workplace Inclusion for First Generation Professionals 317.3 KB
First-generation Professionals Bring "Cultural Competence" to the Workforce 89.94 KB