UNCF to Award $1.2 Million to Four HBCUs to Establish Liberal Arts Innovation Centers

Institutional recipients charged with developing centers that focus on merging  the liberal arts into technical degree fields

UNCF announces the awarding of Liberal Arts Innovation Grants to four institutions participating in the UNCF Career Pathways Initiative (CPI). The initial investment from UNCF provides up to $300,000 to each institution to create a campus-based or virtual liberal arts innovation center that focuses on merging the technical discipline of STEM, healthcare, education and finance into the liberal arts. The development of these Liberal Arts Innovation Centers (LAIC) will enable the institution to expand the research, provide training and development opportunities to faculty and staff and to incubate and test approaches to implementing embedding technical disciplines into the liberal arts.

STEM Liberal Arts Innovation Center
Fayetteville State University in Fayetteville, NC, will foster collaboration with industry and institutional partners; promote interdisciplinary instructional strategies across STEM and liberal arts disciplines; and drive improved liberal arts student development of digital literacy skills and improved STEM student development of liberal arts/human-centered skills.

Healthcare Liberal Arts Innovation Center
UNCF-member institution Voorhees College in Denmark, SC, will proactively identify the intersections and highlight the critical impact that liberal arts and multidisciplinary studies theory and practice have on healthcare access and equity for minority and rural populations. Through their center, Voorhees will offer online certificate programs such as Abuse Prevention and Education Certification, HIV Prevention Counselor I, SC Community Health Worker Certification, etc.

Education Liberal Arts Innovation Center
Talladega College in Talladega, AL, a UNCF-member institution, will institute an interactive professional learning process for faculty, which will lead to increased student learning and retention. Professors will study student responses to active learning strategies during technology-enhanced lessons using a variety of techniques to include training models focusing on critical‐thinking, communication, and problem‐solving skills.

Finance Liberal Arts Innovation Center
Dillard University in New Orleans, LA, which is also a UNCF-member institution, will introduce a new learning model, Humantics, that blends technical and social skills to develop higher-order mental skills in students that will prepare them to effectively function in and move between jobs and tasks. Professors at Dillard will embed lessons on conflict negotiation and resolution, verbal and written communication, content creation, empathy, planning, teaching and leadership into their courses while also teaching students how to fully utilize programs necessary for data analytics.

“We’re extremely excited to begin the work that will result in innovations from each of our participating institutions to advance the knowledge and skillsets of their students and their transition from post-secondary education to careers in their chosen fields,” said Dr. Samaad Wes Keys, strategist for UNCF’s Institute for Capacity Building. “Higher education has forever been a foundation for innovative thought, entrepreneurial action and the building of best practices. The LAICs are UNCF’s response to the liberal arts community that will strengthen the influence that liberal arts have on other professions and career paths. We look forward to working together with these institutions to build their capacity to provide mentorship, solutions-based career pathways, and experiential learning to their students.”

“The economic mobility for students who have a base in a liberal arts education is evident. UNCF is eager to cross-pollinate liberal arts pedagogy into professions that will provide the all-encompassing skill sets that 21st-century employers value,” said Dr. Michael L. Lomax, UNCF president and CEO. “These critical skills that can fuel students’ careers forward with higher earning potential. Thank you to the Lilly Endowment for entrusting UNCF with this very important initiative.”

Since their inception, liberal arts institutions have provided a broad-based education that adequately prepares students for a wide range of professions.

The UNCF CPI, funded by the Lilly Endowment, Inc., is a three-pronged comprehensive approach to delivering career pathways for students: guided pathways, curricular enhancements, and integrated co-curricular engagement. The goal of the CPI is to help students find meaningful employment in their desired career fields. Awarded to UNCF in 2015, the $50 million Lilly Endowment gift marked the second largest gift in UNCF history. Currently, 24 HBCUs or predominantly black institutions actively participate in the UNCF CPI.

To learn more about CPI, visit UNCF.org/CPI.


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, 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 percent of African American baccalaureate degrees. Today, UNCF supports more than 60,000 students at more than 1,100 colleges and universities across the country. Its logo features the UNCF torch of leadership in education and its widely recognized motto, “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.