Strada Education Foundation’s HBCU Initiative Expands to Include A&T

By Jackie Torok / 07/27/2023 Academic Affairs

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (July 27, 2023) – North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University is among 22 historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) included in an expanded partnership with a national foundation dedicated to helping leverage successful pathways through postsecondary education that lead to graduate school and career opportunities.

This expansion of Strada Education Foundation’s HBCU Initiative is made possible by a $25 million grant — the largest grant ever given by the organization — that will provide scholarships, networking, and leadership development opportunities to more than 500 students over eight years.

N.C. A&T’s inaugural cohort in the initiative consists of Makaylah Smith, who is studying kinesiology and plans to graduate in December 2026; Jacob Thornton, who is studying landscape architecture and plans to graduate in May 2027; and Grace Walker, who is studying business and information technology and plans to graduate in May 2026. Thornton and Walker are Honors College students.

“Our partnership with the Strada Education Foundation HBCU Initiative provides much-needed scholarship dollars to support high-achieving students. This is critical and reduces the financial burden that many students face when pursuing a college education,” said Rosalind Dale, Ed.D, vice provost for engagement and outreach. “The additional funds to support programming helps Strada Scholars develop beneficial leadership and interpersonal skills as they engage with their peers and the community. I have truly enjoyed engaging with our first cohort of scholars and watching them grow over the past academic year, and I look forward to welcoming our second cohort in August.”

The Strada HBCU Initiative launched in October 2021 with 28 institutions, and after a successful pilot year will now include nearly half the nation’s HBCUs.

“HBCUs have delivered on the promise and practice of cultivating economic mobility for more than 150 years. We are proud to play a small part in supporting their important work,” said Strada CEO Stephen Moret. “While most of Strada’s work indirectly benefits hundreds of thousands of learners across the country each year, our HBCU initiative will directly benefit hundreds of promising scholars at nearly half of America’s HBCUs. We are excited to expand this initiative to many more institutions.”

What began in early 2021 as a series of conversations with several dozen institutions has continued as a partnership between Strada and HBCUs to launch and grow the initiative. Strada leaders have consistently visited HBCU campuses across the country to interact with and learn from the institutions’ leaders while the students — designated as Strada Scholars — presented about their experiences with impactful educational and leadership development opportunities.

In the initiative’s first year, Strada Scholars started an honors association, championed leadership initiatives, and launched new programs on their campuses. At partner schools across the country, the students in the inaugural cohort are serving as mentors and guides to the members of the second cohort. Partner institution presidents have placed considerable faith in the power the initiative can have to foster changemakers and future leaders.

“The HBCU Initiative’s success in its first year exceeded our expectations because of the remarkable displays of leadership our Strada Scholars have already shown on their campuses — efforts that are just beginning to take form," said Marlene Coulis, chair of the Strada Board of Trustees. “It’s exciting to see these students blossom into the next generation of leaders who will become changemakers in communities across this nation.”

For more information on the Strada HBCU Initiative, visit stradaeducation.org/hbcuinitiative/.

Media Contact Information: jtorok@ncat.edu