TMCF and Strada Pilot New Scholars Program

Fayetteville State (FSU), Texas Southern (TSU) and Virginia State universities have been chosen to participate in a pilot high school-to-college scholars program in a joint initiative of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) and Strada Education Network, the two organizations have announced.

“Seeing our program expand into HBCUs through this investment from Strada to TMCF will no doubt create a multiplier effect where these scholars transform into business leaders making a significant impact in our communities,” said Fleischer. Strada is providing a three-year, $1.8-million grant to create the TMCF Fleischer HBCU [historically Black colleges and universities] Scholars Program, which is modeled after the Fleisher Scholars Program established in 2009 by entrepreneur Morton Fleischer, to help academically promising students from economically fragile backgrounds.

Dr. Harry L. Williams, the TMCF President and CEO, hailed the new program as “a true capacity-building opportunity for our member schools” that will “provide the pilot schools with tools and technology to bolster recruitment efforts and hopefully achieve the same level of success as the original Fleischer program.”

The program will begin next summer and bring 50 rising high school seniors to a “boot camp” at each of the university sites, involving potentially 450 students total by the end of the pilot, said Williams.

The hope is that the program will succeed and, with help from funders, expand to include all 47 schools that are part of TMCF, Williams said.

“We see this groundbreaking program as a true capacity-building opportunity for our member schools,” he said.

The new initiative dovetails with Strada’s mission to support and scale student success programs that help prepare students to pursue successful career paths, said the nonprofit’s president and CEO, Bill Hansen. He predicted that the scholars program will “build on the impressive success of the Fleischer program and replicate it to benefit thousands more high school students in their transition to attend our country’s leading HBCUs.”

Dr. Austin Lane, president of Texas Southern University, called his school’s participation in the pilot program an honor.

“It gives TSU a unique opportunity to serve first-generation, underrepresented students in our area,” said Lane. “We will showcase what college is all about and introduce them to the finest examples of entrepreneurship and business in the Houston area. We will partner with the Houston Independent School District and other feeder institutions to identify the most promising young scholars to participate.

“Most important,” he added, “this program allows TSU to help create future leaders while, at the same time, introducing them to one of the largest and most vibrant HBCU campuses in the nation.”

The new scholars program isn’t the first time TMCF and Strada have come together. In the past, Strada has supported the TMCF scholarship program and leadership institute, and this latest collaboration is the fruit of discussions that began several years ago, said Daryl Graham, Strada’s senior vice president of philanthropy.

Strada promotes innovative collaborations that help underserved students achieve college access and career success, he said, and the evolving missions and strategies of both Strada and TMCF are aligned in that regard.

“We wanted more opportunities in partnership with an organization that we felt very comfortable with,” said Graham. “This was a great fit for us and for them.”

By LaMont Jones of Diverse: Issues In Higher Education. Mr. Jones can be reached at ljones@diverseeducation.com. Follow him on Twitter @DrLaMontJones.