2 New Orleans HBCUs win $2.25 million in career grants

The United Negro College Fund has awarded sizable grants to improve graduates’ professional prospects at two New Orleans historically black universities: $1.25 million to Xavier University of Louisiana and $1 million to Dillard University.

UNCF announced the winners Monday (Dec. 5). Its College Pathways pilot project helps colleges and universities develop internships, partnerships with businesses and new academic specialities, among other tactics.

The overall goal: to improve employment rates for recent college graduates who are African American. More than half are underemployed and 12 percent don’t have jobs at all, UNCF officials said.

Dillard will use the money to better match its academics to workforce needs. GNO, Inc. has stepped up to partner.

“This is transformational for Dillard,” said Carretta Cooke, director of the university’s career development center. “For the first time, a program will connect our academic affairs and career services to business stakeholders to enhance career readiness and placement in this increasingly competitive job market.”

Xavier plans to strengthen career advising, mentoring and curricula “so as to assure degree completion and advancement of our students to their desired post-secondary study and careers,” university President C. Reynold Verret said. “It is about enriching and deepening the Xavier experience.”

A total of 24 institutions split $35.3 million over five years. The Lilly Endowment is funding the UNCF project.

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