COLUMBIA, S.C. (courtesy benedict.edu) — On Oct. 6 Benedict College 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 and a member of the Strada HBCU 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.
“Eighty-four 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’s 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 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, please visit https://stradaeducation.org/hbcuinitiative/.
About Benedict College
Founded in 1870 by a woman, Bathsheba A. Benedict, Benedict College is a private co-educational liberal arts institution, offering 25 competitive baccalaureate degree programs. The Midlands HBCU welcomes students from all 46 counties in South Carolina, 30 states across America, and 26 countries around the world.
Benedict offers several high-demand fields of study in STEM, Cyber Security, Mass Communication, Sport Management, Business Administration, Engineering, Computer Science, Biology, and Education. The College also has a diverse faculty and importantly, 80 percent of courses are taught by full-time faculty.
There are over 18,000 proud Benedict Tigers throughout the nation. Benedict College has been a community leader for over 150-years and is a significant contributor to South Carolina and the region. Contributing $130 million and 1,218 jobs in total local and annual economic impact, a Benedict graduate working full-time throughout his or her working life can expect to earn $1.1 million in additional income because of their Benedict College degree.
The College made front-page news in the spring of 2018 when it became the first South Carolina college to lower its tuition by 26 percent. Cutting tuition drew praise from the Commission on Higher Education, South Carolina’s education oversight body. The commissioner noted that the move Benedict College made should be applauded because it offers families affordability and students greater access to higher education.
Benedict College has been highly regarded and exceptionally ranked for its programs by several academic and traditional publications. For example, Benedict College was ranked as one of the top baccalaureate colleges in the nation by Washington Monthly magazine for creating social mobility and producing cutting-edge scholarship and research. In 2019, Benedict College received the 2019 ACE/ Fidelity Investments Awards for Institutional Transformation and was named the HBCU of the Year by HBCU Digest.
Benedict College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award baccalaureate and master’s degrees. Five of the College’s degree programs hold national accreditation: The School of Education, Social Work Program, Environmental Health Science Program, Studio Art Program, and the Tyrone Adam Burroughs School of Business and Entrepreneurship.
About Strada Education Network
Strada Education Network is a new kind of nonprofit social impact organization, dedicated to increasing individuals’ economic mobility through purposeful connections between education and employment. Our approach combines innovative research, thought leadership, strategic philanthropy and investments, and support for individuals through student coaching, work-based learning, career exploration, and helping adults learn news skills throughout their careers. Together, we work to better serve the millions of Americans seeking to complete postsecondary education and training, gain clear value from those experiences, and build meaningful careers. Learn more at stradaeducation.org.