Career Pathways Initiative: Developing Guided Pathways for Students Through College and Into Careers

The challenges of black unemployment and underemployment in the United States have persisted for decades.

At a time when a college education has become critical to a professional career and a middle-class lifestyle, we as a nation continue to struggle with college completion and career preparedness. The effects of this challenge fall with special impact on the African American community, where unemployment and underemployment rates are significantly higher than the national average.

To respond to this challenge, UNCF and Lilly Endowment, Inc. have joined forces with 24 historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and predominantly black institutions (PBIs) to establish the UNCF® Career Pathways Initiative (CPI)–a three-pronged, comprehensive approach to developing career pathways for students:

  • Guided Pathways—Placing student success at the center of institutional operations by engaging students in their learning journey and ensuring that they get on, stay on, and graduate from an academic pathway that facilitates personal and professional growth.
  • Curricular Enhancements—A collaborative redesign of current curricula to streamline course and program offerings and embed 21st century competencies in students’ learning outcomes.
  • Integrated Co-Curricular Engagement—Integration of co-curricular activities to create a more robust student experience that increases students’ awareness, exposure and skills development.

The 24 institutions were chosen through a multi-phase competitive process from among 87 institutions eligible to submit applications.  Fifteen of the 24 institutions were selected to receive grants that range from $1 million to $1.5 million. Nine additional institutions will work together in three-institution clusters, which will receive up to $6 million each.

UNCF’s track record—its status as the largest private provider of scholarships to students of color and its level of long-term public support (more than $4.7 billion in contributions over seven decades) attests to its ability to lead change and improvement in sending students to and through college and on to successful careers. Today’s economy demands not only a college education, but a high level of preparation for  jobs and careers. The UNCF Career Pathways Initiative holds the potential to model success for the entire higher education enterprise on this critical mission.