Investing on young and deserving people’s dreams can have far-reaching effects. The United Negro College Fund or UNCF recently announced the release of a hefty $35.3 million to support career readiness initiatives and address youth unemployment. The grants to historically black colleges and universities and predominantly black institutions will help students land jobs after graduation.
The UNCF, with headquarters in Washington, D.C., offers scholarships to all ethnicities, though the majority of recipients remain to be African-Americans. Some of the celebrated men and women who have reaped the benefits of a UNCF-administered scholarship were African-American Civil Rights Movement leader Dr. Martin Luther King; actor Samuel Jackson; and former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher.
Out of the 24 selected educational institutions, 15 will receive individual awards ranging from $1 million to $1.5 million. The UNCF grants aim to address the problem of youth unemployment in the U.S. Studies note that for young people who have tucked only a high school diploma, job prospects have dwindled. This scenario is replicated in other parts of the world.
Pilot Program Addresses Employment Gap Issue in the US
The UNCF is the nation’s largest minority education group in the United States. Over the years, it has gained support from philanthropic groups and individuals, some of which lend support with little or no fanfare.
With the UNCF Career Pathways Initiative (CPI), the career readiness of about 54,000 enrolled students will be given focus. Many of these students hail from low-to-moderate income households and will be the first in their families to earn college degrees.
One of the selected schools, Morehouse College, will receive a $1.25 million grant. It intends to launch an initiative that will support students from their first academic year until their graduation and crossover to the workforce. How? Through the setting up of the Office of Career Development and Engagement that will cater to students of all career interests. The functions of the new office will include assistance for job searches plus sound advice to be given by certified career coaches.
UNCF’s Career Pathways Initiative is a unique pilot program for select historically black colleges and universities and predominantly black institutions to enhance career readiness for an estimated 54,000 enrolled students. Many of these students hail from low-to-moderate income families.
UNCF CEO Dr. Michael Lomax tweeted a congratulatory message to the 24 historically black colleges and universities and predominantly black institutions selected to receive grants aimed at improving job outcomes for graduates.
He also posted interviews conducted with heads of selected educational institutions. One of them, Claflin University President Henry Tisdale, noted the various universities’ common goals and strategies to bring about change in terms of opening opportunities for students. He said that the institutions can share and collaborate for the best interests of those students.
Will a Nation of Divided Citizenry be Able to Fix Education?
Disadvantaged students in the beneficiary institutions will no doubt benefit from the UNCF Pilot Program that will curb youth unemployment. Interestingly, a data-driven venture by The New York Times called “The Upshot” listed some factors that make certain countries emerge as the strongest in the educational sphere. “The Upshot” tweeted that “countries that make teaching more prestigious have students who perform better.”
Beyond directing more resources to the neediest students, schools across America (and other parts of the world, for that matter) are called upon to establish cultures of constant improvement to hone the skills needed as the world moves to a new era where good jobs demand critical thinking and problem-solving. As president-elect Donald Trump vowed to make America great again and stated that he will not settle for less than the best, many people are left wondering if youth employment, or education as a whole, will receive the priority attention it deserves.
Photo Source: Morehouse College/Twitter