A new generation of leaders is being cultivated at 50 colleges and universities across the country thanks to an expanded partnership with a national foundation dedicated to helping leverage successful pathways through postsecondary education that lead to graduate school and career opportunities.
The expansion of Strada Education Foundation’s HBCU Initiative is made possible by a $25 million grant — the largest grant ever given by the organization — that will provide scholarships, networking, and leadership development opportunities to more than 500 students over eight years. The Strada HBCU Initiative launched in October 2021 with 28 institutions, and after a successful pilot year will now include nearly half the nation’s HBCUs.
“HBCUs have delivered on the promise and practice of cultivating economic mobility for more than 150 years. We are proud to play a small part in supporting their important work,” said Strada CEO Stephen Moret. “While most of Strada’s work indirectly benefits hundreds of thousands of learners across the country each year, our HBCU initiative will directly benefit hundreds of promising scholars at nearly half of America’s HBCUs. We are excited to expand this initiative to many more institutions.”
In the initiative’s first year, Strada Scholars started an honors association, championed leadership initiatives, and launched new programs on their campuses. And at partner schools across the country, the students in the inaugural cohort are serving as mentors and guides to the members of the second cohort. Partner institution presidents have placed considerable faith in the power the initiative can have to foster changemakers and future leaders.
“Our goal is to utilize our campuses as a springboard for the next generation of leaders who will foster significant, sustainable change in our communities, across this nation, and globally,” said Aminta Breaux, president of Bowie State University, and co-chair of the Strada HBCU Advisory Council. “But the changes start with the leadership roles we are already seeing our scholars take on our campuses.”
What began in early 2021 as a series of conversations with several dozen institutions has continued as a partnership between Strada and HBCUs to launch and grow the initiative. Strada leaders have consistently visited HBCU campuses across the country to interact with and learn from the institutions’ leaders while the students — designated as Strada Scholars — presented about their experiences with impactful educational and leadership development opportunities.
“Part of the responsibility of education is to help prepare leadership for the next generation,” said Marshall Grigsby, former president of Benedict College who, as a Strada trustee, guided the creation of the HBCU Initiative and continues to support it as co-chair of Strada’s HBCU Advisory Council. “Through this initiative, we’re able to identify and support the young people who have the potential and the skills to not just be leaders in their own communities, but to be able to look down the road and see how they can help make this world a better place.”
The overarching vision of the HBCU Initiative took shape in September 2022, when 21 presidents, 43 school representatives, and 71 scholars gathered in Atlanta, Georgia, for the inaugural Strada HBCU Leadership Summit. The event included two days of opportunities for scholars to interact with their peers from across the country, share best practices, and attend educational sessions on networking, leadership development, and building generational wealth.
“The HBCU Initiative’s success in its first year exceeded our expectations because of the remarkable displays of leadership our Strada Scholars have already shown on their campuses — efforts that are just beginning to take form,” said Marlene Coulis, chair of the Strada Board of Trustees. “It’s exciting to see these students blossom into the next generation of leaders who will become changemakers in communities across this nation.”
For more information on the Strada HBCU Initiative, visit stradaeducation.org/hbcuinitiative/.
Institutional Partners in the Strada HBCU Initiative
(The 22 institutions participating for the first time in 2022-23 are denoted with an asterisk.)
Alabama A&M University*
Alabama State University
Albany State University
Alcorn State University
Bowie State University
Central State University
Chicago State University
Coppin State University*
Delaware State University
Denmark Technical College*
Drake State Community & Technical College*
Elizabeth City State University*
Fayetteville State University
Fort Valley State University
Florida A&M University
Grambling State University*
Harris-Stowe State University
Jarvis Christian College
Johnson C. Smith University
Lincoln University of Missouri*
Lincoln University (PA)
Medgar Evers College*
Mississippi Valley State University
Morgan State University*
North Carolina A&T State University*
Paul Quinn College
Philander Smith College
Simmons College of Kentucky*
Southern University at New Orleans
Saint Augustine’s University*
St. Philip’s College
Texas Southern University
Trenholm State Community College*
University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff
Virginia State University
Virginia Union University
About Strada Education Foundation
Providing access to college degrees isn’t enough. That’s why Strada Education Foundation focuses on stronger connections between postsecondary education and opportunity in the U.S. and focus on helping people whom our systems have failed to serve equitably. We advance this mission through research, grantmaking, social impact investments, and public policy solutions. We collaborate with students, educators, employers, policymakers, and other partners to help create more equitable pathways to prosperity. Learn more at stradaeducation.org.