28 HBCUs Join Ambitious Initiative to Connect Students’ Education and Aspirations

$25 million grant from Strada Education Network taps the collective experience and insights of HBCU leaders to scale experiential learning and leadership development within the college experience
October 6, 2021

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INDIANAPOLIS — Twenty-eight historically Black colleges and universities today announced the launch of an ambitious partnership with Strada Education Network, a nonprofit social impact organization dedicated to increasing individuals’ economic mobility by fostering more purposeful connections between education and work. Supported through a $25 million grant from Strada, the initiative reflects a year-long collaboration designed to listen, learn from, and support the work of HBCUs in developing the next generation of leaders.

“This initiative builds on our long-standing dedication to identifying systematic and sustainable strategies to help more Americans achieve better life outcomes for themselves, their families, and their communities through postsecondary education,” said Marshall Grigsby, Strada trustee and former HBCU president, provost, and faculty member. “Black colleges have a profound, positive influence in communities, for alumni, and students who, in turn, have the potential to make a positive difference in our society. We hope to expand this work with an even broader cohort of institutions in years to come.”

Over the past year, Strada Education Network convened an advisory council of seven current and former HBCU presidents and led conversations with dozens of institutions to identify both needs and opportunities to accelerate economic mobility for HBCU students. The resulting initiative will focus on leadership development and provide students with scholarships and financial support to defray some of the costs of participating in internships. It also will help students build their professional networks and prepare them to launch their careers or explore graduate schools. Rather than establishing a new program, the initiative was designed to augment existing programs on HBCU campuses by providing experiences that marry a student’s academic learning with career goals and leadership aspirations.

“After consistently demonstrating strong ROI and accelerated economic and social mobility outcomes for our students, the HBCU community stands together in this critical moment of opportunity,” said Tony Allen, President of Delaware State University and the incoming Chair of the President’s Board of Advisors on HBCUs at the White House. “Now is a time like no other to build sustainable equity in our institutions – equity that recognizes the collective talent and promise of the more than 350,000 students we graduate each year, along with the $15B in economic impact and the 134K jobs we provide to our local communities. Strada has taken the time to listen and now is helping us do something more, advancing our students by providing the leadership and capacity building needed to prepare the next generation of global citizens. That is philanthropy in action.”

This year, 28 HBCUs will join the initiative and take part in the inaugural 2021-22 Strada Scholars cohort. In future years, Strada plans to expand the initiative beyond the initial institutions to as many HBCUs as have interest in participating. Strada’s Senior Vice President of Philanthropy Daryl A. Graham and Vice President of Philanthropy Pat Roe will oversee the initiative.

“This partnership has been inclusive and collaborative from the beginning,” said Roslyn Clark Artis, president of Benedict College and member of the Strada HBCU Advisory Council. “Together, we’ve integrated feedback from nearly a third of the nation’s HBCUs in designing this student-centered program and convened a strong group of presidents to shape the relationship.”

Strada Trustees Aminta Breaux, president of Bowie State University, and Marshall Grigsby co-chair the council. Joining President Clark Artis on the Strada HBCU Advisory Council are:

  • Clarence D. “Clay” Armbrister, president of Johnson C. Smith University.
  • Leonard Haynes, former U.S. assistant secretary for postsecondary education and former acting president of Grambling State University.
  • Adena Williams Loston, president of St. Philip’s College.
  • Quinton T. Ross Jr., president of Alabama State University.

“​​As an organization that thinks deeply about the connection between learning and economic mobility, we have long valued the impact of historically Black colleges and universities,” said Tom Dawson, interim president and CEO of Strada Education Network. “This initiative is about learning from institutions that outperform their peers when it comes to vaulting students into the top income quintile as adults. It reflects the commitment of institutional leaders who were willing to collaborate with our team over the past year to identify ways in which our resources could be deployed with intentionality in service of HBCUs in support of their mission.”

2021-2022 Participating HBCU Institutions

Alabama State University
Albany State University
Alcorn State University
Benedict College
Bennett College
Bowie State University
Central State University
Chicago State University
Claflin University
Delaware State University
Fayetteville State University
Fort Valley State University
Florida A&M University
Harris-Stowe State University
Jarvis Christian College
Johnson C. Smith University
Lincoln University (PA)
Livingstone College
Mississippi Valley State University
Paul Quinn College
Philander Smith College
Southern University at New Orleans
St. Philip’s College
Texas Southern University
University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff
Wiley College
Virginia State University
Virginia Union University

About Strada Education Network

Strada Education Network is a new kind of nonprofit social impact organization, dedicated to increasing individuals’ economic mobility through purposeful connections between education and employment. Our approach combines innovative research, thought leadership, strategic philanthropy and investments, and support for individuals through student coaching, work-based learning, career exploration, and helping adults learn new skills throughout their careers. Together, we work to better serve the millions of Americans seeking to complete postsecondary education and training, gain clear value from those experiences, and build meaningful careers. Learn more at stradaeducation.org.

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