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Benedict College to Participate in National HBCU Initiative to Connect Students’ Education and Aspirations

Benedict College to Participate in National HBCU Initiative to Connect Students’ Education and Aspirations
Posted By: Kennedy Williams on October 15, 2021

Benedict College recently announced its participation in an ambitious new initiative between 28 institutions and Strada Education Network, a nonprofit social impact organization dedicated to increasing individuals’ economic mobility by fostering more purposeful connections between education and work. The initiative, powered by an initial $25 million grant from Strada, is designed to support the work of historically Black colleges and universities in developing the next generation of leaders.

“Our students are also often ‘first-generation corporate,’ with little experience or family history in the corporate world,” said Dr. Roslyn Clark Artis, President and CEO of Benedict College in South Carolina and a member of the advisory council. The partnership also gives HBCUs wide latitude in how they use the funding. Benedict is considering offering scholarship recipients stipends to pay for professional attire and transportation for their internships.

“84 percent of Benedict College students could not afford college without the federal Pell Grant and are unlikely to have closets full of work clothes,” noted Dr. Artis. She also highlighted that one of the unique aspects of the scholarship component of the program is its 3.3 GPA requirement. Many scholarships only focus on students with the highest grades, rather than high-potential, high-capacity students who just need a little bit of help to realize their greatest dreams academically.

Over the past year Benedict participated in a series of conversations with Strada Education Network, to identify both needs and opportunities to accelerate economic mobility for HBCU students. The resulting initiative will focus on leadership development and provide students with scholarships and financial support to defray some of the costs of participating in internships. It also will help students build their professional networks and prepare them to launch their careers or explore graduate schools.



Rather than establishing a new program, the initiative was designed to augment Benedict College existing Career Program, which combines students’ academic learning with career goals and leadership aspirations

This year, Benedict will participate in the inaugural 2021-22 Strada Scholars cohort. Students selected by Benedict will receive a renewable scholarship and a stipend to support their participation in internships. The selected scholars also will participate in a yearly leadership development retreat designed for HBCU students.

“This initiative builds on our long-standing dedication to identifying systematic and sustainable strategies to help more Americans achieve better life outcomes for themselves, their families, and their communities through postsecondary education,” said Marshall Grigsby, Strada trustee and former HBCU president, provost, and faculty member. “Black colleges have a profound, positive influence in communities, for alumni, and students who, in turn, have the potential to make a positive difference in our society. We hope to expand this work with an even broader cohort of institutions in years to come.”

Grigsby and Strada Trustee Aminta Breaux, president of Bowie State University, co-chair the Strada HBCU Advisory Council, a group of HBCU leaders who collaborated to create the initiative. Those leaders include:

Roslyn Clark Artis, president and CEO of Benedict College.
Clarence D. “Clay” Armbrister, president of Johnson C. Smith University.
Leonard Haynes, former U.S. assistant secretary for postsecondary education and former acting president of Grambling State University.
Adena Williams Loston, president of St. Philip’s College.
Quinton T. Ross Jr., president of Alabama State University.
“This partnership has been inclusive and collaborative from the beginning,” said Clark Artis. “Together, we’ve integrated feedback from nearly a third of the nation’s HBCUs in designing this student-centered program and convened a strong group of presidents to shape the relationship.”

This year, 28 HBCUs will join the initiative and take part in the inaugural 2021-22 Strada Scholars cohort. In future years, Strada plans to expand the initiative beyond the initial institutions to as many HBCUs as have interest in participating.

To learn more about the initiative, https://stradaeducation.org/hbcuinitiative...

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