UNCF Expands HBCU Student Coaching Network to Advance College Access and Success

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Monique LeNoir UNCF Communications 202.810.0231 monique.lenoir@uncf.org

With capacity-building support from UNCF, HBCUs will offer one-on-one success coaching to help thousands of students of color chart pathways to and through college

UNCF, the nation’s largest and most effective advocate for minority education, today announced an ambitious four-year initiative that will scale one-on-one success coaching and help students at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) across the country access and complete college. The project will expand on a year-long collaboration between UNCF’s Institute for Capacity Building and the national student success nonprofit InsideTrack that focused on supporting former HBCU students during the process of re-enrolling in higher education. The initiative is funded by Strada Education Network, the Macquarie Group Foundation and Blue Meridian Partners.

UNCF and InsideTrack are now in the second year of a multi-year, multi-campus partnership focused on HBCU student enrollment and success. The project began in 2021 as a yearlong pilot focused on helping former HBCU students to re-enroll in higher education in the wake of a tumultuous year for colleges and their students. Supported by early funding from Strada Education Network, InsideTrack coaches reached out to more than 4,000 former students and helped nearly 400 return to nine campuses participating in the project.

“Research—and lived experience—tell us that HBCUs offer a strong positive return on investment for their graduates, while also making a powerful contribution to social mobility across generations,” said Edward Smith-Lewis, vice president of strategic partnerships and institutional programs at UNCF. “This work is about equipping our member institutions to scale high-impact support services that can help current and prospective HBCU students achieve their education and career aspirations. It’s also about helping HBCUs sustain the long-lasting change for alumni, families and communities that we know they are uniquely capable of producing.”

Nationally, HBCUs account for just 3% of all four-year nonprofit colleges and universities, they enroll 10% of all Black college students, produce 16% of the bachelor’s degrees and 20% of the STEM degrees earned by Black students. A recent analysis from UNCF’s Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute found that HBCUs move their graduates into the middle class at nearly twice the rate of all institutions of higher education.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, HBCU leaders and advocates have linked arms to effectively respond to the unprecedented challenges our students have faced over the past two years—from financial headwinds and public health concerns to pandemic isolation and even threats of violence,” said Julian Thompson, director of strategy at UNCF. “Tapping into the same spirit of collaboration, this is about working with HBCUs to build on an extraordinary legacy of student achievement and engagement to help more HBCU students realize the full promise of higher education.”

In Fall 2021, the Macquarie Group Foundation funded an expansion of the program to help more former students navigate the complexities of re-enrolling in higher education—and overcome the barriers to successfully resuming their studies that stopped-out students often face. As a result, the re-enrollment program will grow this year to reach an additional 4,000 students.

“We are proud to partner with UNCF to expand its student coaching network across HBCU institutions, increasing access to essential mentoring services that drive student retention and create greater opportunity for students re-entering higher education,” said Shawn Lytle, head of Americas at Australian-based Macquarie Group, and committee member at Australian-based Macquarie Group Foundation.

With generous funding from Blue Meridian Partners and Strada Education Network, UNCF is also launching a third phase focused on scaling the program through 2026. Over the next four years, the program will provide one-on-one success coaching services for 10,000 students seeking an HBCU education, 4,000 HBCU students already in their first or second year of enrollment, and re-enrollment coaching for 3,000 HBCU students who have not completed their degrees.

“To make good on the promise of HBCU access and completion, we must use every tool at our disposal to enhance the student experience and remove barriers to student success,” said Dr. Glenell Pruitt, provost and vice president of academic affairs at Jarvis Christian College, a UNCF-member HBCU. “This collaboration with other HBCUs and national partners will enable us to pull out all the stops and build our capacity to deliver high-impact student services on our campus.”

In collaboration with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and the Partnership for Education Advancement, UNCF will work with InsideTrack over the next four years to build a shared services model that will provide at least 10 schools with training and staff development support to build their internal capacity to provide coaching using InsideTrack’s evidence-based methodology. The shared services initiative will create a financially sustainable model that will enable HBCUs to adopt innovative approaches to student success and enrollment management that will serve more students.

The institutions participating in the next phase include Benedict College, Bethune Cookman College, Claflin University, Clark Atlanta University, Dillard University, Florida Memorial University, Jarvis Christian University, Johnson C. Smith University, Lane College, Morehouse College, Philander Smith University, Stillman College, Talladega College, Voorhees College and Wiley University.

“As a proud HBCU alumna, I know firsthand the deep, rewarding and personal connection that so many graduates of these institutions develop,” said Malika Clinkscales, associate vice president for partner success at InsideTrack. “UNCF is creating a unique shared services model that will advance HBCU excellence and success—and build the sector’s capacity to support learners at every stage of the student life cycle.”



About UNCF
UNCF (United Negro College Fund) is the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization. To serve youth, the community and the nation, UNCF supports students’ education and development through scholarships and other programs, supports and strengthens its 37 member colleges and universities, and advocates for the importance of minority education and college readiness. UNCF institutions and other historically Black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding nearly 20% of African American baccalaureate degrees. UNCF administers more than 400 programs, including scholarship, internship and fellowship, mentoring, summer enrichment, and curriculum and faculty development programs. Today, UNCF supports more than 60,000 students at over 1,100 colleges and universities across the country. Its logo features the UNCF torch of leadership in education and its widely recognized trademark, ‟A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”® Learn more at UNCF.org or for continuous updates and news, follow UNCF on Twitter at @UNCF.

About InsideTrack
InsideTrack is passionate about helping all learners achieve their education and career goals through the transformative power of coaching. Since 2001, we’ve served 2.6 million learners, partnering with more than 250 institutions and organizations to directly improve enrollment, persistence, completion and career readiness. Our coaching methodology is evidence-based and research-confirmed, with proven outcomes for every type of learner—from traditional to adult, part-time to full-time, online to in-person—including first generation students and those who face systemic barriers to postsecondary success. We also work with partners to build internal coaching capacity through staff training and professional services—designed to sustain advances in-house for lasting, scalable impact. InsideTrack is a part of Strada Collaborative, a mission-driven nonprofit. To learn more, visit www.insidetrack.org and follow us on Twitter @InsideTrack and LinkedIn @InsideTrack.

About Blue Meridian Partners
Blue Meridian Partners is a pioneering philanthropic model for finding and funding scalable solutions to problems that limit economic and social mobility for America’s young people and families in poverty. We provide transformative capital paired with capacity-building support and strategic advice, empowering visionary leaders to dream bigger and vastly expand their impact, influence, and reach. Learn more at bluemeridian.org and follow us on Twitter at @bluemeridianp and LinkedIn @blue-meridian-partners.

About the Macquarie Group Foundation
The Macquarie Group Foundation (the Foundation) provides support to community organisations globally each year through financial support, volunteering and skills sharing, predominantly in the locations in which Macquarie operates. Its work is significantly influenced by the activities of Macquarie staff with a focus on capacity building within the community sector and increasing social and economic mobility. In the year to March 31, 2021, the Macquarie Group Foundation, together with Macquarie Group staff efforts, contributed more than AU$64 million to over 2,400 community organisations around the world and contributed over AU$5 million in value donated through skilled volunteering. Since it was established in 1985, the Macquarie Group Foundation and Macquarie staff have contributed more than AU$475 million globally. 

About Strada Education Network
Strada Education Network is a nonprofit dedicated to helping people take advantage of education and training after high school that helps them secure a good job, do meaningful work, and lead a fulfilling life. We believe education and training after high school have the potential to be the most powerful and equitable ways to help all people thrive in their careers and lives. To help students succeed beyond completion of a certificate or degree, we conduct research, make charitable grants and social impact investments, and support Strada Collaborative, which directly serves students and workers. Learn more at stradaeducation.org.