Wilberforce part of national collaboration

WILBERFORCE — Wilberforce University is among nine institutions who have pledged to work together through a grant to share best practices, help pilot innovations and openly discuss risks and failures where diversity is concerned.

The grant is supported by ECMC Foundation — a Los Angeles-based foundation whose mission is to inspire and facilitate improvements that affect educational outcomes, especially among underserved populations; and in partnership with the University Innovation Alliance (UIA) — a group of 11 public research institutions committed to increasing the number and socioeconomic diversity of college graduates.

“We are hopeful that the University Innovation Alliance’s work is truly the beginning of an era — one where schools reach out to their peers across states and the country to ask for help, advice and insight,” said Peter Taylor, president of ECMC Foundation. “We are excited to see how the UIA has already inspired great projects like these, and look forward to supporting the work.”

To be eligible for the grant, teams of at least three campuses were encouraged to develop proposals to address persistence and graduation gaps among low-income, first-generation college students and students of color. These proposals could include new initiatives, or the scaling of existing successful programs across new campuses. Collectively, the grantees across the three campus networks span across eight states and enroll more than 150,000.

The awarded project went to The Urban College Consortium led by Paul Quinn College in collaboration with Kuyper College and Wilberforce University. Paul Quinn College’s Work Model requires residential students to work paid internships in addition to jobs on-campus to provide real-world experience and reduce student loan debt. Earnings go towards students’ tuition and fees, therefore decreasing student loan debt. Paul Quinn will work with Kuyper College and Wilberforce University to explore ways to pilot and replicate the model on their campuses.

“If we want to really unlock the promise of higher education, colleges and universities can no longer go it alone. The UIA is working to scale innovation and inspire others to advance important change to benefit students,” said Bridget Burns, executive director of the UIA. “We are thrilled at the level of enthusiasm and meaningful work coming out of the summit and could not be more grateful to have generous partners like ECMC Foundation who are committed to helping us inspire and build a student success movement in higher education.”

The 11 members of the Alliance include: Arizona State University, Georgia State University, Iowa State University, Michigan State University, Oregon State University, Purdue University, The Ohio State University, University of California, Riverside, University of Central Florida, University of Kansas, and The University of Texas at Austin.