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Office of Public Relations
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Press Release


                                                    IMPROVE JOB OUTCOMES OF GRADUATES

The UNCF® Career Pathways Initiative, funded by Lilly Endowment Inc., awarded $35 million in grants to selected Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Predominately Black Institutions (PBIs) to address social and economic issues of minority graduation, unemployment, and underemployment

(HOLLY SPRINGS, DECEMBER 9, 2016) After a six-month planning phase, UNCF announced Rust 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.

David L. Beckley, President of Rust College, in acknowledging the grant stated that Rust is pleased to be included in the program, a program designed to improve the skills of our graduates that will make them more competitive in the job market upon graduation.

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.

According to Beckley, Rust College submitted a proposal that reflects a college-wide commitment to strengthening career advising and mentoring, enhancing curricula, and supporting integrated co-curricular engagement. As part of CPI, Rust and the selected institutions will develop a range of academic programs, student internships, industry partnerships, specialty certifications, and faculty development activities to forge a new model for career readiness of our students.

Mississippi colleges receiving the grant are Rust and Tougaloo Colleges. 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 Rust 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 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 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. 

Dr. Beckley stated that the research indicates a need for soft skills (e.g. critical thinking, oral and written, communications, and leadership) as well as academic performance skills to succeed in today’s competitive markets and this grant will address these competencies.

The Rust College Career Pathways (RCCP) grant will also go toward the redesign and development of the Career Placement Center. The Career Development and Placement Center will assist students with on and off campus employment; major divisions in securing discipline specific internships; and employers with recruitment.  Students will also be assisted with developing resumes, career assessments, interview skills, and graduate school searches.  At the time of graduation, the 2017 cohort should have an electronic portfolio and co-curriculum transcripts that demonstrates the skills acquired in and outside the classroom.


RUST COLLEGE was established in 1866 by the Freedman's Aid Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Its founders were missionaries from the North who opened a school in Asbury Methodist Episcopal Church, accepting adults of all ages, as well as children, for instruction in elementary subjects. A year later the first building on the present campus was erected. Rust College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools - Commission on Colleges to award Associate and Baccalaureate degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Rust College. Learn more at

Dr. David L. Beckley
(662) 252-8000 ext. 4015


Dr. Ishmell Edwards
Vice President, College Relations
(662) 252-8000 ext. 4012
Ms. Kimberly Woods
Admin. Assistant, PR/ Alumni Affairs
(662) 252-8000 ext. 4911