UNCF Pledges $35M In Grants to Help HBCUs Tackle High Unemployment Rates Among Graduates


image via wikimedia commons
image via wikimedia commons

Initiatives are being enacted across the country to help young Black people, who in the wake of the Great Recession, still find themselves either unemployed or struggling financially despite their academic achievements.

The United Negro College Fund is one such organization seeking to take on some of these issues. UNCF announced Monday, Dec. 5, that 24 historically black colleges and universities will receive five-year grants totaling $35.3 million to fund programs meant to improve their graduates’ employment outcomes.

The grants will go through UNCF’s Career Pathways Initiative, with help from the Lilly Endowment Inc. CPI will assist the chosen HBCUs — as well as other predominantly black institutions (PBIs) — by establishing courses and programs that help with career readiness for the post-graduate lives of 54,000 enrolled students. This will be achieved through faculty development, industry partnerships, internships for students, specialty certifications, specialized academic programs and more.

Typically, the black unemployment rate is as high as the white unemployment rate, regardless of academic achievements, according to the Economic Policy Institute. However, the unemployment rate for recent Black graduates is worse today than it ever has been for their whites peers after the Great Recession.

Currently, young Black college graduates, who the EPI categorizes as being between the ages of 24 and 29, have an unemployment rate of 9.4 percent, which is higher than the peak unemployment rate was for young white college graduates during the recovery (9.0 percent). Young Black people who have only a high school diploma, those ages 17–20, have an even more difficult time: The unemployment rate for them is a whopping 28.4 percent. Unsurprisingly, the rate of unemployment also is higher than the peak unemployment rate for their white high-school-graduate counterparts during the aftermath of the Great Recession, which was 25.9 percent.

Because of these figures and the plight faced by many young Black people, money will be awarded to help them. One such school receiving CPI’s grant is Atlanta’s own Clark Atlanta University. CAU will receive $1.5 million and the money will be used by the university to establish and cultivate career pathways, which lead to improved employment outcomes for Clark Atlanta’s students and alumni.

“We are very excited about receiving this award,” Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Peter Nwosu told WTVM. “The three-pronged approach to student success advanced in our initiative, guided pathways, circular enhancement and integrated co-curricular engagement will help prepare our students to effectively participate in a changing, global-knowledge workplace.

Atlanta’s Morehouse and Spelman are among the other HBCUs to receive grants. The full list of schools, including locations and how much money each received, can be found here.

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