UNCF Partners with H.E.L.F. to Develop New Generation of Top HBCU Leaders

by cdawkins

Partnership will strengthen leadership pipeline across the HBCU sector

UNCF (United Negro College Fund) has entered into a new strategic partnership with the Higher Education Leadership Foundation (H.E.L.F.). The historic three-year partnership is aimed at building a sustainable pipeline of qualified individuals who aspire to lead HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities) at the president, provost, and dean levels. In addition, the organizations will launch a Presidents and Board Chair Institute that will work with a cohort of newly minted HBCU presidents and board chairs to develop competencies necessary to ensure both successful and effective leadership and governance.

As the preeminent leader in providing bold, engaging and innovative learning and mentoring opportunities for current and aspiring leaders at HBCUs, H.E.L.F.’s mission is to encourage leaders to “lift as they climb” in order to ensure HBCUs survive and thrive as national models of achievement. “Everything UNCF undertakes emphasizes student success and the strengthening of our nation’s HBCUs. In doing so, we want to ensure current, and future executives of these vital institutions are provided with comprehensive development that produces great and effective leaders who are innovative and creative and are positioned to have lasting impact on their respective institutions,” said Dr. Michael L. Lomax, President and CEO of UNCF. “We are excited to partner with H.E.L.F., so we can continue to demonstrate our commitment to the future of HBCUs. What is unique about this partnership is that this is the first time UNCF has undertaken to create a sustained pipeline of high-performing leaders.”

“While grappling with the mounting void within HBCU leadership, we sought boldly to fill our beloved spaces with the innovation of our H.E.L.F. “Inspire Institute,” serving approximately 300 Fellows over the past five years,” stated H.E.L.F. co-founder and president of Wiley College, Dr. Herman Felton, Jr. “Our central focus is to strengthen the HBCU leadership pipeline. Partnering with UNCF’s iconic brand to create a leadership institute with a laser focus on presidential and board leadership aligns with our HBCU-centric mission and emphasis. This partnership signifies a seismic shift in HBCU leadership and governance preparedness. Utilizing scholars and practitioners who labor in this space lends an invaluable perspective to our work and will ultimately contribute industry practices and improvisional leadership skills for long and successful tenures to administrators overseeing our nation’s gems. Our HBCUs now have leadership and professional development programs intentionally created to address the entire pipeline. Like H.E.L.F., President Lomax and his entire UNCF team share the responsibility of ensuring our HBCUs continue to benefit from highly skilled, transvormational and disciplined leadership and governance,” said Felton.

The partnership is made possible through a $2 million investment by the Kresge Foundation to increase the stability and effectiveness of leadership across the HBCU sector and will be administered through UNCF’s Career Pathways Initiative (CPI). The organizations will co-design and deliver leadership curricula tailored to the specific needs of both public and private HBCUs and predominantly black institutions. The curriculum will be delivered through intensive engagement, ensuring continuous touchpoints and training over a 12- to 18-month period.

“At a time when the average tenure of a college president steadily decreases, partnerships like this are both timely and have the potential to have a lasting impact on the entire higher education community,” remarked Samaad Wes Keys, Ph.D., strategist for UNCF’s CPI. “I am thrilled about the opportunity to develop the next generation of HBCU leaders, while also strengthening current leaders to ensure continued success and viability of this sector of institutions. The best part about this partnership with H.E.L.F. is the opportunity we have to influence the world through curricula that are both designed by and reflective of the community and the challenges that are more relevant to HBCUs and institutions with similar missions.”

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