UNCF, which advocates for private HBCUs, is teaming up with the nonprofit InsideTrack to help reenroll 4,000 students who left one of nine historically or predominantly Black institutions before completing.
Returning students will receive up to four months of one-on-one coaching that aims to help them set goals, balance competing responsibilities and find on-campus resources.
The new initiative is one of the latest programs targeting the roughly 36 million people in America with some college credit but no degree.
The institutions comprising the network are located across the southeastern U.S., said Ed Smith-Lewis, executive director of UNCF's Institute for Capacity Building, though he declined to share the names of the colleges.
While the initiative aims to reconnect stopped-out students to their original colleges, they will be able to enroll at any school in the country. "We just want to make sure these students are supported," Smith-Lewis said. "COVID has disrupted so many lives in America, specifically in the Black community, and we want to make sure those students know that their home institution cares about their education."
InsideTrack, which offers reenrollment coaching services to institutions, will contact a list of stopped-out students provided by the participating colleges. The nonprofit is working with the schools now to gather those names, and it expects to begin the coaching work by June, said Ruth Bauer White, InsideTrack's president.
The organization will also study common reenrollment barriers and share those insights with the colleges, White said.
UNCF is treating the initiative as a pilot, and officials there hope it produces results that inspire funders to help scale the program. Strada Education Network, which acquired InsideTrack in 2017, is providing a matching grant to help UNCF fund the initiative, though officials declined to share the amount.
HBCUs have also been launching individual efforts to reach this student population. Most recently, Morgan State University's regents approved launching 18 new degrees that will form a program meant to help stopped-out students earn a college credential. The programs at the Maryland college will include undergraduate and advanced degrees that prepare students to work in high-demand fields, including cybersecurity and information technology.
Morehouse College, a private HBCU in Atlanta, announced a similar program that will debut this summer. The online undergraduate degree primarily aims to help Black men with some college credits graduate. To offer the degree, Morehouse teamed up with 2U, a publicly traded company that helps colleges launch and run online programs in exchange for a cut of the tuition revenue.
Correction: This article has been updated to reflect a change in the number of colleges participating in UNCF's initiative.