UNCF Pilot Program Addresses Employment Gaps of African American College Graduates by Awarding $35 Million in Grants to 24 Colleges and Universities

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UNCF® Career Pathways Initiative, funded by Lilly Endowment Inc., will enable selected HBCUs and PBIs to address social and economic issues of minority graduation, unemployment and underemployment

UNCF Career Pathways Logo

"CPI will help ensure our graduates are prepared for and are hired into high-paying 21st-century jobs,” -Dr. Michael L. Lomax, UNCF President and CEO

Because more than half of recent African American college graduates are underemployed and 12 percent are unemployed, UNCF today announced that 24 colleges and universities will receive five-year grants totaling $35.3 million to implement programs to improve employment outcomes for their graduates.

Made possible through a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., the UNCF® Career Pathways Initiative (CPI) is a unique pilot program for select historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and predominantly black institutions (PBIs) that is helping them enhance career readiness for their 54,000 enrolled students. Many of these students will be the first in their families to earn college degrees. The majority of students are from low-to-moderate income families and must receive federal financial aid to pursue their undergraduate studies.

These colleges and universities submitted proposals that reflect a commitment to strengthening career advising and mentoring, enhancing curricula, and supporting integrated co-curricular engagement. As part of CPI, they will develop a range of academic programs, student internships, industry partnerships, specialty certifications, and faculty development as they forge a new model for career readiness.

A complete list of colleges and universities receiving the grants can be viewed here.

“These colleges and universities show promise in significantly addressing the urgent challenges facing African American college students and graduates,” said Dr. Michael L. Lomax, UNCF president and CEO.

“CPI will help ensure our graduates are prepared for and are hired into high-paying 21st-century jobs,” Lomax said. “With strong CPI results, we will be able to make the case to others to invest in a new model –one that enables minority and low-income students by giving them the knowledge and skills to be competitive in the global marketplace.”

UNCF launched CPI in December 2015 through a rigorous and competitive multi-phased grant process that targeted 87 eligible public and private HBCUs and PBIs. In the first phase, UNCF made planning grants to 30 institutions. In the final phase, UNCF has chosen 24 colleges and universities for implementation grants. Of those schools, 15 institutions will receive individual awards ranging from $1 million to $1.5 million. Nine of the institutions have been selected for three cluster grants, in which each cluster of three institutions will collaborate intentionally to achieve their shared outcomes. Each cluster will receive up to $6 million.

The colleges and universities will reflect their missions as liberal arts institutions while striving to prepare students for 21st-century careers that increasingly demand training in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.
HBCUs and PBIs have a long record of developing programs to address problems in the black community. In this tradition, CPI will help the colleges and universities recognize the urgency of ensuring meaningful employment outcomes for students.

A recent Georgetown University study shows that more than 95 percent of jobs created since the Great Recession have gone to workers with at least some college education, primarily high-skill managerial and professional jobs. These findings make it clear that a college degree continues to be─and will increasingly become─the most important economic asset for those who want to succeed in the labor market. For African Americans, who comprise 81 percent of HBCU enrollments and who have historically experienced considerably higher unemployment rates than the national average, having an immersive career preparation experience in college will be of utmost importance to promote income equality and contribute fully to the nation’s workforce needs.

"In the next 10 years, the U.S. could face a shortfall of more than 10 million workers with the postsecondary education and training needed to fill the jobs of the future,” said Anthony P. Carnevale, Director and Research Professor, Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. “If we are to meet the impending shortfall and strengthen the next generation of workers as a whole, we will need to move a minimum of nearly 4 million African American and Hispanic students on to postsecondary success."

Since 2003, Lilly Endowment has provided philanthropic support for Indiana colleges and universities to enable them to design and implement programs that improve career outcomes for their graduates. With insights learned from the Endowment’s grantees in Indiana, UNCF is committed to helping the 24 colleges and universities create a new model for career readiness.

In 2015, UNCF received a $50 million grant from Lilly Endowment to create CPI. In addition to funding planning and implementation grants to colleges and universities, the Endowment’s grant is enabling UNCF to offer technical support and consultation to schools participating in CPI, including conferences to facilitate shared learning among the colleges and universities, and conduct program evaluation.

Although HBCUs represent only 3 percent of all two- and four-year U.S. colleges and universities, they enroll 10 percent of all African American undergraduates, produce 18 percent of all African American college graduates, and generate 25 percent of all bachelor's degrees in STEM fields earned by African Americans annually.

"The value proposition for HBCUs and PBIs remains strong, as these institutions disproportionately produce first-generation, low-income graduates of color," said Lomax. ""UNCF and Lilly Endowment are helping to produce new pathways so that these deserving graduates have seamless transitions to meaningful careers. We heartily congratulate the 24 institutions chosen to lead this important work."
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About Lilly Endowment Inc.
Lilly Endowment Inc. is a private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family—J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons J.K. Jr. and Eli—through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. Although those gifts remain the financial bedrock of the Endowment, the Endowment is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with its founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion. Although it maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana, it does support efforts of national significance particularly in the field of religion and on an invitational basis disaster relief and recovery efforts and programs that enhance higher education opportunities for African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans across the country. More information can be found at http://www.lillyendowment.org.

About UNCF UNCF (United Negro College Fund) is the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization. To serve youth, the community and the nation, UNCF supports students’ education and development through scholarships and other programs, strengthens its 37 member colleges and universities, and advocates for the importance of minority education and college readiness. UNCF institutions and other historically black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding nearly 20 percent of African American baccalaureate degrees. UNCF awards more than $100 million in scholarships annually and administers more than 400 programs, including scholarship, internship and fellowship, mentoring, summer enrichment, and curriculum and faculty development programs. Today, UNCF supports more than 60,000 students at more than 1,100 colleges and universities across the country. Its logo features the UNCF torch of leadership in education and its widely recognized trademark: A mind is a terrible thing to waste®. Learn more at UNCF.org, or for continuous news and updates, follow UNCF on Twitter, @UNCF and #UNCFCPI.

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