UNCF Issues New Research on “The HBCU Effect™”
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UNCF Issues New Research on “The HBCU Effect™”

(Image: Black PR Newswire)

UNCF released the latest research brief addressing The HBCU Effect™, which is designed to understand, validate and promote the success of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and to develop a counter-narrative that fully illustrates their value and competitiveness.

“By uncovering HBCU truth through data and research, The HBCU Effect™ will illuminate how HBCUs yield a high return on investment by equipping their students, in particular first-generation students, with resources to close education and wealth gaps—transforming generations,” said Dr. Nadrea Njoku, director, Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute (FDPRI), UNCF, according to a press release.

“HBCUs are top producers of Black STEM graduates, Black medical doctors, veterinarians and graduate low-income students at higher rates than private white institutions (PWIs), and their students also report greater academic and social gains. Yet, limited data exist regarding workforce outcomes for Black HBCU alumni,” said Njoku.

“This mixed-methods research brief adds to UNCF’s ongoing effort to create a counter-narrative through our HBCU Effect™ research agenda. This brief, consisting of our early quantitative findings, and the collective study adds to our knowledge of The HBCU Effect™ by addressing gaps in knowledge about workforce outcomes at HBCUs, and how social experiences and networks affect the academic and workforce experiences of Black HBCU alumni,” said Njoku.

In the summer of 2021, 1,761 Black HBCU alumni, 81% female and 19% male, participated in a 10-minute survey to conduct the research. To promote participation and friendly competition among the HBCUs, FDPRI offered a $20,000 award toward institutional funding for the HBCU with the highest number of responses from their alumni. Florida A&M University (FAMU) won the competition with the highest number of participants followed by UNCF-member institutions Bennett College, Oakwood University and Xavier University of Louisiana. Overall, 75 HBCUs were represented.

Most respondents from international communities (30%) are currently earning salaries between $50,000 and $74,000. Twenty-nine percent were from suburban communities earning a salary over $150,000 while around 22% of rural and international students reported earning the same salary.

The highest level of completed education among the respondents was a master’s degree (45%), followed by a bachelor’s degree (32%), a doctoral degree (12%) and a professional degree (8%).

In addition to the survey, approximately 40 participants expanded upon their survey responses in a one-hour semi-structured interview.

In the spirit of elevating the narrative of the “HBCU family,” the retroactive perspectives of alumni were collected as part of a workforce alumni study to investigate the influence of HBCUs on workforce outcomes by examining the influence of peer networks on its students.

Key findings and recommendations of the study:

– HBCU alumni who reported higher income brackets also reported higher satisfaction with their HBCU networks.

– Considering the impact of HBCUs on HBCU students and alumni, in addition to their tendency to serve a population that other institutions deem unworthy and valueless, HBCUs should be lauded for how they otherwise would not have at PWIs or other institutions.

– The field of higher education must acknowledge HBCUs’ expertise in properly supporting Black students. Higher education institutions can use the information from the study to develop programs and policies that demonstrate genuine care and investment in Black students and the Black community.

– Practitioners at PWIs should draw upon the existing research and narratives about the ways that HBCUs properly support Black students and replicate those support practices and networks on their campuses as much as possible.

– HBCUs can draw upon the early experiences that alumni describe to develop early intervention programming for first-year students that will equip them with the knowledge and connections they need to navigate campus and establish the connections they need early in their college experiences.

Njoku noted that more research is needed that draws upon the perspectives of alumni to understand how specific factors like faculty and staff support, peer mentorship, guidance from alumni and networks contribute to students’ on-campus experiences and at different times after graduation.

“We seek to build upon the findings from this study through deeper inquiry to understand the collective HBCU experience and specific factors that contribute to students’ success while enrolled and after college to support accurate narratives about The HBCU Effect™,” said Njoku.

A few of the questions future research will explore Njoku said are, “How does the HBCU experience and workforce outcomes vary between private HBCUs and public HBCUs? How can HBCUs serve as models for other institutions of higher education? What other ways do HBCUs contribute to social mobility and increased capital for HBCU students and alumni?”

Njoku authored the report with Megan Covington, Ph.D., Natasha McClendon, Ph.D., both of UNCF; and Christen Priddie, Ph.D., a critical quantitative scholar in the Center of Postsecondary Research at Indiana University.

Find the report at UNCF.org/AlumniWorkforceBrief.

UNCF’s Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute (FDPRI) has produced three major reports in The HBCU Effect™ series: “HBCUs Transforming Generations Social Mobility Outcomes for HBCU Alumni,” “Culturally Relevant Practice: Implementation among Historically Black Colleges & Universities,” and “HBCUs Punching Above Their Weight.” To read the individual reports, click here.


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