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8 HBCUs Receive Funding to Explore Innovative Partnerships on Improving Mental Health among College Students of Color

Transformational Partnerships Fund, established by ECMC Foundation, SeaChange Capital Partners and others, encourages innovative collaboration among higher education institutions

June 23, 2022

LOS ANGELES—The Transformational Partnerships Fund (TPF) awarded $50,000 to eight Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to pursue collaborative efforts to improve mental health support for their students. The HBCUs received the funding during the “Ideation, Innovation and Collaboration: The Future of HBCUs” conference hosted by the Higher Education Leadership Foundation, on May 31-June 2, 2022, in Charlotte, NC.

Attendees representing HBCU leaders from across the country were given the opportunity to connect with potential collaborators through ideation sessions that were held over the course of three days. Fourteen proposals were developed and submitted, representing a range of ideas for cross-institutional collaboration, covering student affairs and enrollment, athletics, academic affairs, business and finance, and institutional advancement. The two selected ideas will explore partnerships that aim to improve mental health of students across a total of eight HBCUs. Many of those who did not receive awards will be invited to apply for future funding.

“ECMC Foundation has long invested in the success and strength of HBCUs, which serve a large share of Black students in the U.S.,” said Peter J. Taylor, president of ECMC Foundation, one of the establishing funders of the TPF. “Given the conference’s focus on ideation and collaboration, we wanted to spark innovative thinking to reimagine how higher education serves students, particularly those attending HBCUs.”

Established in 2021 by ECMC Foundation and SeaChange Capital Partners, with additional founding support from Ascendium Education Group,  The Kresge Foundation and The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, the TPF is the first of its kind, providing colleges and universities support to explore student-centric partnerships and collaborations that could meaningfully transform how they operate and enhance their ability to provide reliable, high-quality educational opportunities for students. The fund supports public and nonprofit colleges and universities interested in exploring a range of partnerships and collaborations, which may include mergers on the one end to administrative shared services and consolidated programs on the other end.

“We established the TPF because we didn’t want resources to stand in the way of the type of collaborative, innovative thinking higher education needs to navigate a changing world,” said John MacIntosh, a partner at SeaChange Capital Partners. “The quantity and quality of submissions we received show that our country’s HBCUs are willing to think outside the box to advance the educational success of their students. Through opportunities like the TPF, they have the resources to act on their transformative ideas.”

The two collaborations awarded funding through the TPF include:

  • Wilberforce University in Ohio, Delaware State University and Tuskegee University in Alabama will receive $25,000 to better integrate wellness education and services into the student experience with the goal of alleviating the effects of mental health on student persistence. The funding will help formalize initial discussions that started among the colleges during the pandemic, providing resources to host a joint conference and train peer wellness educators, who would serve on their respective campuses.  
  • Wiley College in Texas, Southern University System in Louisiana, Harris-Stowe State University in Missouri and Arkansas Baptist College in Tennessee will receive $25,000 to build a support system among HBCUs around the country with a commitment to addressing mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, feelings of hopelessness and other consequences of racial trauma that may affect student persistence and completion. The group of institutions will create a consortium of resources to serve as a framework for supporting the spiritual and mental health of their students.

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