(Marshall, Texas) -After a six-month planning phase, UNCF announced Wiley College as one of 24 colleges and universities that will receive five-year grants totaling $35.3 million for the UNCF® Career Pathways Initiative (CPI), a transformative effort to design and implement programs to improve employment outcomes for graduates. Wiley College will receive $1 million over five years to implement its “Your Career Starts Now” program.

“Wiley College is honored to have been one of the institutions selected to receive this grant,” said Dr. Haywood L. Strickland, President and CEO of Wiley College. “This transformational initiative will strengthen the College’s career preparation infrastructure and engage faculty more intentionally in facilitating the preparation of students for jobs that will exist when they graduate.”

Strickland said Wiley’s faculty and staff are enthusiastic about the program. “The College is fortunate to have faculty and staff who are committed to working with businesses and employers in Texas as well as throughout the nation to align the curriculum with the competencies and skills needed by employers.”

Ultimately, says Strickland, the institution’s participation in the initiative will lead to increased positive outcomes for students and their families while enhancing the College’s reputation for producing graduates who are ready to compete, lead, and achieve in the workforce. “Wiley’s successful implementation of the ‘Your Career Starts Now’ program will ensure a higher return on students’ and parents’ investment and will enable the College to further enhance and sustain its market niche as one of the ‘best buy’ higher education institutions in Texas.”

You can scroll down to view an interview of Dr. Strickland by UNCF Senior Communications Manager Ashlei Steven.

Made possible through a 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 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.

Wiley College 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, Wiley College and the other 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.

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

“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 Wiley College and the 23 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 selected 24 colleges and universities for implementation grants. Of those schools, 15 institutions, inclusive of Wiley and its $1 million award, will receive individual awards ranging from $1 million to $1.5 million. Nine of the institutions have been selected for three cluster grants, in which each cluster of three institutions will collaborate intentionally to achieve their shared outcomes. Each cluster will receive up to $6 million.

This story was written by Wiley College Newsroom. This story is published here with permission.