The Rise of the Rest: How Black Colleges Are Redesigning Career Support

By | July 5, 2017

How can historically black colleges and universities provide meaningful employment to struggling students and alumni? Leaders of 24 institutions serving them are answering this question in Atlanta this week as part of a conference hosted by United Negro College Fund’s (UNCF) Career Pathways Initiative (CPI).

The program seeks to close the ever widening chasm between the professional outcomes and economic mobility of black and white college students. Jim Shelton, former Deputy Secretary of Education in the Obama administration and president of Education at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative who kicked off the event, said the pace of change is critical. “The ability to learn at the pace of the fastest learner is the key to success,” he said. The 54,000 students served by these institutions are some of our country’s most vulnerable.

Improving African American’s economic mobility through education and professional development represents one of today’s most urgent social justice challenges. “A lot of these students come from low-income backgrounds,” explains Michael Lomax, UNCF president and chief executive officer. “They attend college to change their economic status and that of their families. It’s a perverse outcome when they borrow significantly, go to school, work hard, and then can’t get good jobs after they graduate.” Lomax believes that by “moving the goalpost from graduation to employment” and designing for “practical and pragmatic outcomes” the organization can lead in industry traditionally resistant to change. (EdSurge)

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