Public Historically Black Colleges Unite to Launch Student Success Coaching Network

Thousands of current and former students at public Historically Black Colleges and Universities will receive one-on-one success coaching and support, thanks to a new initiative announced today by the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, the national nonprofit representing nearly 300,000 students attending 47 HBCU member institutions, and the Partnership for Education Advancement, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides capacity building support and sustainable solutions to mission-focused higher education institutions. In collaboration with student success nonprofit InsideTrack, the organizations will launch a four-year, multi-campus initiative that will provide one-on-one success coaching to help remove barriers to college enrollment and success for students at a network of 16 HBCUs nationwide.

“Over the past few years, we’ve seen record growth in enrollments and applications at some HBCU campuses, and outside investments are leading to an exciting new era of impact and innovation,” said Harry Williams, president and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. “HBCUs disproportionately enroll and support students from low-income backgrounds as well as those who are first-generation college students—students who gain significant value from this type of one-on-one coaching and support. By both providing individualized coaching for current and former students, as well as building capacity for institutions to continue this important work over time, this initiative will help institutions capitalize on the current momentum.”

The coaching work will support current and returning HBCU students as they work to clarify their academic, career and personal goals; identify potential obstacles and a plan to overcome them; and stay motivated as they encounter challenges on the path to completion. The network initiative will be managed by Partnership for Education Advancement (Ed Advancement) and is made possible by philanthropic support from Blue Meridian Partners as part of its HBCU Transformation Project, a landmark initiative that seeks to improve student outcomes and increase the health and sustainability of HBCUs.

Over the next three years, the program will provide one-on-one success coaching services for up to 11,500 students, pairing stopped out students with a corps of professional InsideTrack success coaches who will work individually to help them navigate the barriers to returning to higher education and provide continued support to help them stay on track to graduation. In addition, the partnership will provide coaching support to more than 9,800 currently enrolled students over three years, helping them persist and stay on track to graduation.

“Despite historic underfunding and an array of systemic barriers, HBCUs have a remarkable track record of creating pathways to socioeconomic mobility for students of color and first-generation students,” said James Runcie, CEO and Co-Founder of the Partnership for Education Advancement. “Scaling the impact of HBCUs requires equipping them with individual supports and services that build on the strengths of the schools, that are financially sustainable, and that improve the student journey to successful outcomes. Individualized coaching will support HBCUs in ensuring students can set and achieve their own goals, and capacity building will allow this work to continue into the future.”

The partnership with Ed Advancement and TMCF builds on InsideTrack’s long-standing work to bring its evidence-based coaching model to support HBCU institutions and students over the past decade.

Beginning in the second year of the engagement, InsideTrack and Ed Advancement will work across the 16 Thurgood Marshall College Fund member colleges to build a coaching corps of 80 professionally trained student success coaches, 50 certified program leaders—and another 21 observers and 35 trainers qualified to certify and train new coaches, with participating HBCUs beginning to operate the coaching programs independently in year four.

“As a proud HBCU alumna and daughter of an HBCU educator, I have been the beneficiary of the rich educational experiences, campus community and lifelong connections afforded by the Historically Black college experience,” said Malika Clinkscales, associate vice president for partner success at InsideTrack. “Ultimately, our vision for this work is to build an HBCU community of practice that will bring innovations in student support and success coaching to thousands of students of color nationwide.”