After a six-month planning phase, UNCF announced Oakwood University as one of 24 colleges and universities that will receive five-year grants totaling $35.3 million for the UNCF® Career Pathways Initiative (CPI), a transformative effort to design and implement programs to improve employment outcomes for graduates.
In a competitive application process which began with 87 institutions, Oakwood University, Talladega College and Tougaloo College collaborated over the past few months to apply for a CPI cluster grant, which will collectively award $6M to the three institutions. The award will be allocated across a five-year period beginning in 2017.
“I am pleased and excited that Oakwood University and our sister institutions, Talladega and Tougaloo, have been able to work together to receive this award of up to $6M,” remarks Dr. Leslie Pollard, president of Oakwood University. “This grant from UNCF and the Lilly Foundation is going to give us the edge that we need to make sure that when our students finish their degree, they will be eligible for employment because of the career exposure we will provide. Special thanks to my colleagues in presidential leadership – Dr. Beverly Wade-Hogan at Tougaloo and Dr. Billy Hawkins at Talledega – who provided the passion and vision which guided their campuses into joining our historic collaboration. The next five years will be among the most exciting in the history of our University.”
Dr. Prudence Pollard, Vice President for Research and Faculty Development, led the Oakwood team in writing and facilitating the strategies designed to assess, equip, and place students in gainful occupations or graduate programs within a year of graduation. The on-campus team includes Vice President for Academic Administration, Dr. Karen Benn Marshall, and the Deans and Department Chairs at Oakwood. Each entity has a significant responsibility to deliver different elements of the grant.
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.
Oakwood University submitted a proposal that reflects a commitment to strengthening career advising and mentoring, enhancing curricula, and supporting integrated co-curricular engagement. As part of CPI, the selected institutions 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.
“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. “We heartily congratulate Oakwood University and the 23 other institutions chosen to lead this important work.”
UNCF launched CPI in December 2015 through a rigorous and competitive multi-phased grant process that targeted 87 eligible public and private HBCs and PBIs. In the first phase, UNCF made planning grants to 30 institutions. In the final phase, UNCF has chosen 24 institutions for implementation grants. Of those schools, 15 institutions will receive individual awards ranging from $1 million to $1.5 million. Nine of the institutions, including Oakwood, 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.
“I also commend our UNCF President, Dr. Michael Lomax, who has worked tirelessly to build partnerships designed to advance the UNCF mission of educating students of color in order to make them successful,” says Dr. Pollard. “His vision for enhancing our UNCF institutions’ curricula and capacity will serve as a legacy of service which will be long remembered.”
Oakwood’s guided pathway provides student-centered and immersive experiences, a career preparation with faculty to guide students toward academic and professional success. Our vision is an internal social media and highly connected (GEMconnect) guided career pathway to provide each graduate with 21st century career and technology tools needed to thrive.