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Historically Black Colleges Project to Expedite Career Pathways Work

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Two organizations are working together to speed up and strengthen use of pathways for improving the career outcomes for thousands of students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Education Design Lab and the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) will work with 14 of the 24 institutions participating in a multi-year Career Pathways Initiative being run by the UNCF.

The larger effort is part of a $50-million investment by the Lilly Endowment over a seven-year period to help four-year HBCUs and predominantly black institutions strengthen their career placement efforts with the goal of increasing the number of graduates who immediately transition to meaningful jobs in their chosen fields.

The Education Design Lab is a nonprofit that works with schools to design and test unique higher education models and credentials that address evolving work-skill opportunities. The UNCF contracted the Lab to work over the next three years with a subset of Career Pathways Initiative institutions — 14 in total — to accelerate use of the pathways and boost their implementations.

The work will encompass three different cohorts, each with a unique focus:

  • The "Foundational Education" work will include curriculum redesign, identification of gateway courses, and first- and second-year experiences that pose barriers to progression for students. Six institutions will be part of that, including Dillard University and Xavier University, both in New Orleans, and the University of West Alabama.
  • The "Workforce Development" cohort will emphasize efforts to strengthen the connection between college majors and careers, such as through the development of strategic partnerships with the workforce. The four participants are Morehouse College in Georgia, Tougaloo College in Mississippi, Florida Memorial University and Norfolk State University in Virginia.
  • The "Faculty Development" group will work on approaches to help instructors better understand the skills and competencies needed in the workforce and assist them in aligning their instructional practices to address those needs. The four participating institutions are Oakwood College and Talladega College in Alabama, Rust College in Mississippi, and Tennessee State University.

"Education Design Lab's engagement with 14 of our 24 CPI institutions follows our 2018 theme of 'purposeful disruption,' working with our institutions to employ purposeful, innovative approaches to disrupt higher education systems as we know it," said Edward Smith-Lewis, director of the Career Pathways Initiative at UNCF, in a prepared statement. "The Lab and technical assistance provided will help the selected colleges accelerate and strengthen their ongoing efforts to achieve stated goals."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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