The umbrella framework for ICB is Institutional Support Services (ISS). Based on the findings of an annual network-wide institutional assessment and with approval of the ICB Advisory Board of member presidents, ISS will offer off-site and on-site technical assistance, programming and grant support tailored to address immediate and urgent institutional needs in the core areas of institutional advancement, enrollment and fiscal management through various intervention initiatives aimed at strengthening member institutions. ISS operates under a three-part strategy to broadly serve the UNCF network of institutions:
Annual Member Institution Assessment
ICB conducts an annual network-wide institutional assessment to assess member institutions’ needs, threats and opportunities that in turn informs ICB services, training and other forms of intervention to support and build institutional capacity. The frequency of the assessment helps UNCF identify burgeoning issues long before they become problematic and risk non-compliance during the accreditation reaffirmation process.
The end result is a comprehensive report, complemented by institutional reports, that categorizes UNCF-member institutions in three areas—student achievement, financial resources and institutional effectiveness. Institutional reports allow for benchmarking across the UNCF network and similarly situated institutions.
Discrete Technical Assistance
Discrete technical assistance will build ongoing institutional capacity in institutional advancement, enrollment and fiscal management and is offered to UNCF-member Institutions through a competitive grant process. Each intervention is tailored to institutional needs and opportunities identified in the annual institutional assessment rather than focus on any one particular area.
All participating institutions receive a two-day site visit by a consultant, who provides technical assistance on the specific needs or opportunities identified in the assessment. Participating institutions are selected based on a balanced examination of the institution’s health and prioritized by the following areas aligned with regional accreditation standards: financial resources, institutional effectiveness and student achievement (enrollment, retention and graduation data). Participating institutions receive grant support in addition to the consultant support.
Knowledge Management and Professional Development
UNCF recognizes the importance of serving as a training and best practice resource for its member HBCU network. To that end, ICB provides training opportunities for member institution staff through webinars, conferences, communities of practice and publishing training materials. These training initiatives will support robust information sharing, networking and the exchange of best practices across core institutional enterprises (e.g., resource development, operations management and institutional effectiveness, etc.).
Examples of recent conferences include the 2014 Institute on Cohort Default Rate Management and the 2015 Institute for CFOs and Financial Aid Officers. The 2016 Institute will focus on Strategic Enrollment Management.
Fiscal and Strategic Technical Assistance Program (FASTAP)
This program responds to concerns and recommendations of UNCF-member presidents and addresses the persistent, systemic challenges faced by UNCF institutions in accreditation, fiscal responsibility and institutional effectiveness.
Funded in part by the Walmart Foundation, the program offers participating institutions access to consultative and technical assistance in:
- Meeting accreditation standards
- Managing fiscal responsibilities and achieving fiscal stability
- Improving financial aid operations
FASTAP Program components include:
- Pre-accreditation reviews to ensure institutions are well-prepared for the reaffirmation process
- Access to financial management and institutional effectiveness experts to ensure institutions adequately address accreditation principles and regulatory requirements
- Institutes that build communities of best practice across the UNCF network in institutional effectiveness, fiscal management, compliance, financial aid operations and enrollment management.
Activities and Results
Since 2007, FASTAP has completed pre-accreditation reviews for most of its 37 member institutions and provided them with mini-grants to implement resulting recommendations, including upgrading software, improving cash flow and adopting best practices in accounting, budgeting and inventory management.
As part of FASTAP activities, ICB has hosted institutes on cohort default rate management and for chief financial officers. The 2016 institute will focus on enrollment management.