12 Historically Black Colleges and Universities Are Named 2019 Social Mobility Innovators

  • Each of the 12 HBCUs Offers Low-Income Students a 21st
    Century Learning Experience that makes College Affordable, Advances
    Economic Opportunity and Restores the Promise of the American Dream
  • All 12 HBCUs Rank in the Top 10 Percent of Schools on
    CollegeNET’s Social Mobility Index (SMI)

, a leading provider of web-based on-demand technologies for
higher education and the developer of the Social
Mobility Index
(SMI), named 12 Historically
Black Colleges and Universities
Social Mobility Innovators for 2019.

The Social Mobility Index ranks nearly 1,400 four-year U.S. colleges and
universities according to how successfully they enroll students from
low-income backgrounds and graduate them into promising careers. The
goal of the SMI — now in its fifth year — is to help redirect the
attribution of “prestige” in the higher education system toward colleges
and universities that are advancing economic mobility, the most pressing
civic issue of our time.

The 12 HBCUs named Social Mobility Innovators for 2019 all rank among
the top 10 percent of schools on the SMI. The schools are —

State University

A & M University

Carolina A & T State University

Carolina Central University

View A & M University

State University

City State University

State University

Carolina State University


C. Smith University


Most higher education rankings evaluate colleges and universities as if
comparing brands for consumer purchase,” says Jim
, CEO of CollegeNET. “The SMI, on the other hand, helps
policymakers, students and their families see which colleges and
universities are doing the most to drive U.S. economic mobility. We hope
the SMI encourages more institutions to embrace and expand their role as
conduits for restoring the promise of the American Dream. The first step
in doing this is to identify and learn from colleges and universities
like these 12 HBCUs.”

Economic Inclusion Helps Spark Innovative Minds

College education now constitutes the most important rung on the ladder
of economic mobility,” adds Wolfston. “But particularly when it offers a
challenging environment populated with diverse ideas, personal
backgrounds and viewpoints, a college does something even more
important: it prepares students to encounter, navigate and appreciate
the unfamiliar. Given that innovation always depends upon a person’s
ability to consider what could be different from their own assumptions
and experiences, economic inclusion is thus not only a solution to a
social justice issue, it is a key strategy for sparking innovative

Affordability, Access, Equity and Opportunity

The 12 HBCUs were selected as CollegeNET Social Mobility Innovators for
2019 because they each offer a 21st century learning
experience that makes a real difference in the lives of low-income

HBCUs have a long history of educating exceptionally promising students
from under-resourced families,” says Elwood L. Robinson, Chancellor of
Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) and an HBCU graduate himself.
We have always provided a nurturing environment that allows students to
build confidence and cultivate leadership skills. This has given HBCUs
an advantage in narrowing the academic success gap and improving social
mobility. At Winston-Salem State University, we are committed to
producing graduates who are critical thinkers, analytical problem
solvers, effective communicators and innovative and creative
collaborators who can thrive in our rapidly evolving and complex world.”

Removing Barriers to Learning

WSSU — which is the top-ranked HBCU on the SMI, and one of only five
universities in the nation that has consistently ranked among the top 20
schools on the SMI over the past five years — offers a 21st
century educational vision that has recently been bolstered by several
major academic grants.

Earlier this year, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded WSSU a $600,000
to strengthen its programs in the humanities. WSSU is one of
the few public HBCUs — and one of only five University of North
Carolina System institutions — to receive a grant over the Mellon
Foundation’s 50-year history. The three-year grant will provide the
infrastructure to support faculty development and curriculum redesign
for courses in art and visual studies, English, history and music.
Indeed, over the next three years, WSSU faculty will restructure at
least 54 humanities courses — from introductory courses to the senior
capstone course — to support student success.

Our strategic plan calls for a high-touch approach to bridge the gaps
between students and their abilities to engage their education,” says
Anthony Graham, Provost and Chief Academic Officer at WSSU. “This grant
will provide us with the resources to introduce these equitable
practices throughout our humanities offerings. Research has found that
this high-impact approach fosters student success and ensures that
students obtain the essential skills they need to thrive in an
ever-changing economy.”

The Mellon announcement came just several months after WSSU reported a
record $2.3
million in new National Science Foundation (NSF) grants
that will
help expand research opportunities for undergraduate students. The NSF
funding will support research in chemistry, cybersecurity, biophysics,
biology, psychology and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and
Mathematics) education.

Reversing Economic Trends for the Betterment of Society

The 12 HBCUs that have been named as Social Mobility Innovators for
2019 are providing world-class educational opportunity to promising
students regardless of their economic background,” says CollegeNET’s
Wolfston. “Their contribution and example are key at a time when
economic mobility and the American Dream are rapidly deteriorating.
Today, as tuitions at U.S. campuses continue to increase while economic
inclusion declines, these 12 HBCUs provide a strong example for
reversing these trends.”

Acknowledging Institutional Excellence

CollegeNET acknowledges schools — such as the 12 selected HBCUs — that
are fostering social mobility through innovative programs. CollegeNET
presents the annual Social
Mobility Innovator Awards
to student success leaders from U.S.
colleges and universities at the Social
Mobility Summit
— an annual forum on economic inclusion and best
practices for student success held in Portland, Oregon each summer.
CollegeNET recently published an e-book
that offers best practices from student
success professionals
who are pioneering innovative programs that
support under-served and under-represented students’ academic, personal
and financial needs.


Jill Thacker
CollegeNET, Inc.

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