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Spelman Receives $1.25 Million Grant from UNCF to Improve Career Outcomes of Graduates Share a Spelman College Press Release

Spelman College

For Immediate Release

Media Contact:

Audrey Arthur
(404) 270-5892
Twitter: @spelmanmedia

ATLANTA (December 5, 2016)
– Spelman College has received a $1.25 million UNCF® Career Pathways Initiative (CPI) implementation grant to increase the number of students who transition to meaningful jobs in their chosen fields after graduation. Spelman is one of 24 institutions that will benefit from this transformative effort to design and implement programs to improve employment outcomes for graduates.

“This extraordinary award allows Spelman to increase our efforts in executing student-centered innovation necessary to develop career pathways that lead to improved 21st century employment outcomes for our students,” said Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell, president of Spelman. “We appreciate the support of the centrality of student success. Our faculty and administrators employ collaborative strategies to focus on the whole student, developing innovative programming and providing an atmosphere for unparalleled intellectual, social and professional growth - all to prepare our women for the constantly evolving workplace.”

Made possible through a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., CPI is a unique pilot program for select historically black colleges and universities and predominantly black institutions that is helping them enhance career readiness for their 54,000 enrolled students. Many of these students will be the first in their families to earn college degrees. The majority of students are from low-to-moderate income families and must receive federal financial aid to pursue their undergraduate studies.

In October 2015, Lilly Endowment Inc. committed $50 million to launch CPI to improve job placement outcomes for graduates of four-year HBCUs and PBIs. UNCF launched CPI in December 2015 through a rigorous and competitive multi-phased grant process that targeted 87 eligible public and private HBCUs and PBIs. In April, Spelman was among 30 colleges selected to receive a $100,000 planning grant to develop a proposal for the implementation grant.

Spelman submitted a proposal that reflects a commitment to strengthening career advising and mentoring, enhancing curricula, and supporting integrated co-curricular engagement. As part of CPI, the selected institutions will develop a range of academic programs, student internships, industry partnerships, specialty certifications, and faculty development as they forge a new model for career readiness.
“These colleges and universities show promise in significantly addressing the urgent challenges facing African-American college students and graduates,” said Dr. Michael L. Lomax, UNCF president and CEO. “We heartily congratulate Spelman College and the 23 other institutions chosen to lead this important work."

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 44 percent of college graduates in their 20s are stuck in low-wage, low-skilled jobs. Also, college graduates entering the workforce today can expect to have several distinct careers over the course of their lifetimes. These careers will be in fields that may not exist today, but will be interdisciplinary, technology-dependent and ever-evolving. To prepare students for this future, Spelman has devised ways to empower them to make multiple career transitions.

Led by Tinaz Pavri, Ph.D., professor of political science, division chair for the Social Sciences and Education, and director of the Asian Studies Program, Spelman’s CPI aligns with UNCF’s three priority strategies – curricular enhancement, integrated co-curricular engagement and guided pathways. The College has conceptualized career exploration and development as a lifelong iterative cycle with four components that will require students to:

•    Reflect on their values and goals to ground themselves in their identities and communities
•    Explore multiple career pathways, developing realistic and nuanced understandings of their career options
•    Identify skills and knowledge areas that will allow them to excel in their career pathways and devise a plan to develop themselves in those areas through Spelman coursework, independent research, online programs and other means
•    Seek out opportunities to apply what they have learned in order to test their knowledge and accumulate evidence of accomplishment

Other important elements of the career development process include mentorship, accumulation of evidence of accomplishments, career plan development, employer engagement, faculty advising, and curricular integration of career strategies. Spelman is marshaling faculty, staff and administrators to provide students with skills and opportunities needed to succeed, including critical work experiences, leadership development and knowledge of workplace technology.  

Video: Interview with Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell about UNCF's Career Pathways Initiative.

About Lilly Endowment Inc.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is a private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family—J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons J.K. Jr. and Eli—through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. Although those gifts remain the financial bedrock of the Endowment, the Endowment is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with its founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion. Although it maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana, it does support efforts of national significance particularly in the field of religion and on an invitational basis disaster relief and recovery efforts and programs that enhance higher education opportunities for African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans across the country. More information can be found at

About UNCF

UNCF (United Negro College Fund) is the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization. To serve youth, the community and the nation, UNCF supports students’ education and development through scholarships and other programs, strengthens its 37 member colleges and universities, and advocates for the importance of minority education and college readiness. UNCF institutions and other historically black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding nearly 20 percent of African American baccalaureate degrees. UNCF awards more than $100 million in scholarships annually and administers more than 400 programs, including scholarship, internship and fellowship, mentoring, summer enrichment, and curriculum and faculty development programs. Today, UNCF supports more than 60,000 students at more than 1,100 colleges and universities across the country. Its logo features the UNCF torch of leadership in education and its widely recognized trademark: A mind is a terrible thing to waste®. Learn more at, or for continuous news and updates, follow UNCF on Twitter, @UNCF and #UNCFCPI.

About Spelman College

Founded in 1881, Spelman College is a highly selective, liberal arts college widely recognized as the global leader in the education of women of African descent. Located in Atlanta, the College’s picturesque campus is home to 2,100 students. Outstanding alumnae include Children’s Defense Fund Founder Marian Wright Edelman; Sam’s Club CEO Rosalind Brewer, Broadway producer Alia Jones, former Acting Surgeon General and Spelman’s first alumna President Audrey Forbes Manley, Harvard professor Evelynn Hammonds, author Pearl Cleage and actress LaTanya Richardson Jackson. For more information, visit


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