CPI’s goal is to help four-year HBCUs and PBIs strengthen institutional career outcomes by increasing the number of undergraduates who transition to meaningful jobs in their chosen fields upon graduation. To achieve this goal, UNCF has devised a three-pronged approach designed to shape an undergraduate experience that results in “Students Engaged to Learn” and “Graduates Ready to Earn,” including the following strategies:
- 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 learning activities from outside the classroom with coursework that increase students’ skill development and competencies.
CPI will assist participating institutions by supporting experiential learning activities, faculty development, technical assistance, stronger campus-industry interactions, among other initiatives. It will leverage what is learned individually and collectively to support and execute a research agenda that seeks to understand how lower-resourced institutions can drive systemic change to improve student success and career outcomes. Our work will span three primary focus areas:
1. Improving career outcomes for graduates within one year of their graduation, as defined by:
- Improving measures of student success such as retention, persistence and graduation rates.
- Improving quantity and quality of students’ campus experiences.
- Improving graduates’ career placement rates, including postgraduate and career outcomes.
2. Defining, refining, and illustrating our three-pronged approach by addressing questions such as:
- What does it mean to develop guided pathways, supported by an enhanced and integrated curricular and co-curricular program of study?
- How can the model we develop drive better outcomes for students and graduates?
- Which components are most critical in maintaining fidelity to the model?
- How do institutions approach the development of career pathways?
- How can institutions prioritize, sequence and resource this work to reach its objectives?
3. Sharing and learning from cohort institutions to inform best-practice models:
- How can we leverage our institutions’ experience to drive greater reform across higher education?
- What strategies worked and how were barriers overcome?
- What does an institutional model that supports and facilitates greater student academic and career outcomes look like?
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.