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United Negro College Fund

UNCF to award $35.3 million in grants to HBCUs to focus on postgraduate employment

Grants will be used to implement programs to curb the rising unemployment rates for black grads

In today’s society, earning a degree of the highest level of education does not guarantee a job before or after graduation.

According to a 2013 study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, 55.9 percent of recently employed black college graduates were underemployed — or working jobs that did not require college degrees — while 12.4 percent of recent black college graduates between the ages of 22 and 27 were unsuccessful in finding employment. Between 2007 and 2013, the unemployment rate for recent black college graduates spiked from 4.6 percent to 7.8 percent.

To combat this, the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) will provide 24 colleges and universities with five-year grants, amounting to $35.3 million, that will fund programs aimed toward improving employment outcomes for their graduates.

Backed by a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., the pilot program, UNCF Career Pathways Initiative (CPI), will assist historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) with career readiness for more than 50,000 enrolled students who come from low- to-moderate income families and rely on financial aid to pursue a higher education.

Last year, a $50 million grant provided by the Lilly Endowment was used to create CPI. According to a news release, the UNCF used a multiphased grant process to narrow the colleges and universities to the final 24. Of those institutions, 15 will receive individual awards ranging from $1 million to $1.5 million, while nine institutions received more than $6 million to work together in three cluster grants in order to achieve shared outcomes.

“These colleges and universities show promise in significantly addressing the urgent challenges facing African-American college students and graduates,” said UNCF president and CEO Michael L. Lomax. “CPI will help ensure our graduates are prepared for and are hired into high-paying 21st-century jobs. With strong CPI results, we will be able to make the case to others to invest in a new model — one that enables minority and low-income students by giving them the knowledge and skills to be competitive in the global marketplace.”

Here is the complete list of colleges and universities receiving the grants.

Maya Jones is an associate editor at The Undefeated. She is a native New Orleanian who enjoys long walks down Frenchmen Street and romantic dates to Saints games.