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Published on December 13th, 2016 | by Millennium Magazine Staff



UNCF® Career Pathways Initiative, funded by Lilly Endowment Inc., will enable selected HBCUs and PBIs to address social and economic issues of minority graduation, unemployment and underemployment.

(South Carolina) The Carolina Cluster Pathway Program, Benedict College, Claflin University and Voorhees College, received part of a $35.4 million grant under the UNCF® Career Pathways Initiative (CPI), funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. The grant will help the institutions design and implement programs to improve employment outcomes for graduates. The announcement came after a year-long process which included a multi-phased grant process that initially targeted 87 eligible public and private HBCUs and PBIs.

UNCF has allocated a $6 million grant to these three universities: Claflin University ($3.3 million), Benedict College ($1.5 million), and Voorhees College ($1.2 million). A portion of the Claflin University grant ($1.8 million) will operate a jointly-established State Coordinating Office to direct and monitor all of the activities of the awarded institutions.

The Carolina Cluster Pathway Program (C2P2) will prepare students for high-paying private and public sector occupations in the Carolinas and elsewhere. It seeks to do this by guided pathways, curricular enhancements, and integrated co-curricular engagement. In its initiative, the C2P2 will also include the formation of corporate and public advisory boards.

“This Carolina Cluster Pathway Program is our collaborative response to America’s need for talent and our graduates desire to be competitive in obtaining high-paying 21st Century jobs,” said Dr. Henry N. Tisdale, president of Claflin University. “Through the work of the program, we will leverage the capacity of our partner institutions and implement innovation strategies to nurture the talent of the students on our campuses as well as recent graduates and help make the story of the workforce of the 21st Century one of increased diversity and inclusion.”

“This is a particularly exciting adventure for us as both a proud HBCU and a major provider of higher education in our community,” noted Dr. David H. Swinton, president and CEO of Benedict College. “This grant will enhance our technology and ability to transform our student scholars into career-oriented professionals who will be true powers for good in our society. We are thrilled to be able to take part in this ground-breaking initiative that will catapult students into meaningful careers and graduate school opportunities in our technology-driven global economy.”

“Voorhees College is delighted to have received funding that will enable us to move our students from college to successful careers,” said Dr. W. Franklin Evans, president of Voorhees College. “We are proud of the long relationship we have forged with UNCF and are elated to have been selected for this opportunity. This grant provides us with additional resources to prepare our students to be competitive in this global society.”

Made possible through a $50 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., the UNCF® Career Pathways Initiative (CPI) is a unique pilot program for select historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and predominantly black institutions (PBIs) that is helping them enhance career readiness for their 54,000 enrolled students. Many of the students will be the first in their families to earn college degrees. The majority of these students are also from low-to-moderate income families and must receive federal financial aid to pursue their undergraduate studies.

Claflin University, Benedict College and Voorhees College submitted a cluster implementation grant 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 Claflin University, Benedict College and Voorhees College and the other institutions chosen to lead this important work.”

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 the first phase, UNCF made planning grants to 30 institutions. In the final phase, UNCF has chosen 24 colleges and universities for implementation grants. Of those schools, 15 institutions will receive individual awards ranging from $1 million to $1.5 million. Nine of the institutions (including Claflin, Benedict and Voorhees) have been selected for three cluster grants, in which each cluster of three institutions will collaborate intentionally to achieve their shared outcomes.

The State of South Carolina is the state with the largest share of the grant funded by funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. – $6 million.

A complete list of colleges and universities receiving the grants can be viewed here.


Claflin University

Founded in 1869 as the first HBCU in South Carolina, Claflin University (affiliated with The United Methodist Church) is recognized by national publications such as U.S. News and World Report, and Washington Monthly as one of America’s best liberal arts colleges. Its beautiful historic campus is home for approximately 2,000 students from every region of the United States and more than 20 international countries. Claflin University has a strong record of educating minority students in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines. Students are mentored in cutting edge research by world-class faculty in labs located in Claflin’s Molecular Science Research Center, which is a core research facility for the state of South Carolina as designated by the South Carolina Research Authority. 

Benedict College

Founded in 1870, Benedict College is a private, co-educational arts institution and home to over 2,280 students in its 33 baccalaureate degree programs.   The College, affiliated with the Baptist Church, is located on 220 acres nestled in the heart of Columbia, SC. Over the last six years, Benedict College has been ranked as one of the top baccalaureate colleges in the nation by Washington Monthly for creating social mobility, producing cutting-edge scholarship and research. Benedict has high-quality programs of teaching, research, and public service. Benedict recently received the National Civic Engagement Award from The Washington Center for encouraging students to give back to the community. Benedict has over 17,000 proud alumni throughout the nation. The College has been “a power for good” in the community for over 146 years and is a major economic contributor to the region and South Carolina, with a local annual economic impact of more than $106.7 million.

Voorhees College

Founded in 1897 by Elizabeth Evelyn Wright, Voorhees College is the first HBCU established by an African-American woman. An affiliate of the Episcopal Church, Voorhees focuses on providing a comprehensive education that prepares students for a global society. Currently, Voorhees College is the only Historically Black College or University in the state of South Carolina that offers emergency management as a major.  Fully accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Voorhees College was recently named in the top 100 schools for an affordable education.  Voorhees College, home to 420 students who participate in cutting edge research in cybersecurity and biology, has been changing minds and changing lives for 120 years. 

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.






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