Across Phelps' footprint in Mississippi and North Carolina, historically black colleges and universities are training the next generation of entrepreneurs, artists and technical professionals. Now that attracting and retaining top talent is more important than ever, businesses would be wise to connect with these competitive colleges and create pipelines that bring diverse, highly skilled employees to their workforce.

Preparing Students to Become Global Leaders and Practitioners Who Transform Communities

Known for its flagship programs in math, science and health care, North Carolina Central University is heavily invested in continuing Durham's long history of leadership and innovation in the African American community and beyond. Today, the school's students and faculty regularly work with Research Triangle Park industries on state-of-the-art research initiatives in the tech and medical fields.

Dr. James E. Shepard started NCCU in 1910 to broaden access to and diversify higher education, and the school still keeps his mission alive today. For over 100 years, NCCU has focused on arming students not just with degrees, but also with the skills to be competitive and confident members of their chosen fields. Leadership programs, on-campus organizations and a thriving university culture encourage students to get engaged and find unique ways to make their own impact across the school, city and globally.

Co-curricular experiences like study abroad, service opportunities and leadership development complement students' education and ensure they are well-rounded and well-prepared for the workforce. Along with providing interview and resume help, NCCU works with industry leaders and Fortune 50 companies to place students in internships where they can put their academic pursuits to use in real-world environments. Companies can promote internships or full-time employment opportunities with the university to connect to talented candidates.

The school is always looking for corporations to partner with in creative ways to help employers fill talent gaps. One of these historic partnerships began when NCCU became the first HBCU chosen as an Amazon Career Choice Partner. In the program, Amazon pays tuition for their employees to gather skills from NCCU's award-winning programs to take the next step in their careers. This valuable professional experience, added to the training earned at NCCU, develops participants into highly qualified, sought-after talent.

Empowering Technologically Advanced, Ethical Leaders Who Think Critically and Compete Effectively

Jackson State University's vision is one befitting a college in the cultural and business hub of Mississippi. The school leads the state in not only the size and diversity of its student body, but also its commitment to scholarly research on issues affecting its urban environment. It's also one of the leading producers of African American graduates in the STEM and education fields.

Beginning with 20 students in 1877, the university now serves thousands in the heart of Mississippi's capital city. Over almost 150 years, JSU has helped elevate African American families and businesses, empower communities, encourage activism, and offer opportunities to many first-generation college students.

With more than 90 undergrad and graduate degree programs and a thriving online degree pipeline, the school is committed to meeting students where they are and guiding them through their educational journey. One major part of the school's programming is focused on research and developing the latest technology. The Mississippi Urban Research Center connects students with community, national and global research programs to solve pressing issues faced by urban areas across the globe such as infrastructure, education and employment. And the Center for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development helps students combine their STEM, business and problem-solving skills through university-industry partnerships.

JSU works to match students with career options that fit their interests and goals. Last year, the school began a partnership with the University of Mississippi Medical Center to develop a pre-med pipeline for students on the road to becoming doctors, with a particular focus on those who have their sights set on serving the state's rural communities.

Employers looking to partner with JSU on similar initiatives can sponsor the school's career services, which provide interview and resume training, preparation for graduate school and connections to internships. Companies can also register to put their job openings in front of talented students looking for employment.

Moving People and Communities Forward by Helping to Develop Their Purpose, Passion and Profession

The oldest of Hinds Community College's six locations, its Utica campus has an HBCU designation and over 100 years of supporting students looking for an excellent education within a close-knit community. Founded by a pioneer in African American education, William Holtzclaw, the school focuses on preparing talented graduates to fill career openings in STEM and the humanities, as well as 70 of the most sought-after technical fields such as transportation, health care and hospitality.

The college offers wraparound services that promote their students' success. From housing to childcare to transportation, the Utica campus gives students the tools to complete their degree programs and make the most out of their education. The school offers career counseling to help students find the best path to their goals and successfully handle university and workforce transitions.

This year, the Utica Campus developed a new talent pipeline to help preserve the region's rich history. The Utica Institute Museum tells the story of William Holtzclaw and the Utica Institute, which was established in 1903 to educate rural African American Mississippians. The college works with the museum to place students in hands-on internships to explore career possibilities while bringing the area's traditions to life for residents and visitors.

Creating Extraordinary Educational Opportunities for the Mississippi Delta and Beyond

Mississippi Valley State University began as a vocational college to train teachers to serve rural schools, but it's grown to offer degrees in the liberal arts, sciences and business, as well as programs that address societal issues such as environmental health, criminal justice and public policy. The school also trains students on the forefront of emerging technologies like bioinformatics.

MVSU also works with students who already have some college credits to help them earn their degree quickly and get a job in their desired field. The school partners with the Complete 2 Compete program to provide coaching that helps students find the fastest path to their degree.

The university's career services department connects students with on-campus recruitment information and interviews. They also forward student resumes to prospective employers and provide access to job, internship and scholarship opportunities with industry-leading companies. And to help students get the most out of their time in college while keeping an eye on their future careers, MVSU created the Connect D.E.E.P. Four-Year Strategic Career Plan.

Businesses can join the school's career fair on April 11 and get involved with its handshake program to find qualified students ready to make a difference in the workforce. MVSU also welcomes more in-depth corporate partnerships, like the talent pipeline it developed with FedEx. In 2019, FedEx chose the university as its first site for the pipeline initiative, launching a satellite office in Itta Bena, Mississippi, near the school's campus. This office is staffed with students to give them valuable on-the-job training that can lead to full-time employment after graduation and equip them with the skills to stand out to future employers.

Preparing Graduates to Lead the Change for a Better World

Headquartered on the northern edge of Jackson, Mississippi, Tougaloo College has dedicated more than a century to promoting equity and encouraging students to apply critical thought to all areas of life. The school is one of the nation's leading liberal arts colleges providing social mobility for students — more than 40% of Mississippi's African American physicians and dentists and more than 33% of its African American attorneys and educators graduated from Tougaloo. The school also partners with competitive institutions around the country and abroad to connect students with multidisciplinary skills and diverse experiences.

Started by the abolitionist group American Missionary Association, the college renewed its commitment to educational advancement and improving Mississippi race relations in the 1950s. College leaders helped to drive desegregation efforts during the Civil Rights movement, and the school's campus served as a safe haven for those fighting for freedom, equality and justice. Today, the college continues to push for progress, including through the Reuben V. Anderson Institute for Social Justice and Pre-Law Program, which honor the life of trailblazing civil rights lawyer Reuben Anderson by advancing diversity in the legal profession and working to address systemic issues of educational inequity and poverty in Mississippi.

Tougaloo's Office of Career Readiness and Innovative Leadership helps students prepare for life beyond college and find impactful career paths. The office's focus on experiential learning—through apprenticeships, field work, volunteering, and a variety of other real-world learning opportunities—gives graduates a leg up in their job searches by showing employers they have the skills to hit the ground running. The college also offers career counseling and connects students with internships and conferences developing the future of cutting-edge industries. Employers can reach out to the school directly to post job openings and donate to Tougaloo's mission of preparing tomorrow's leaders.

How Pipelines Give Employers a Competitive Edge

Partnering with Mississippi and North Carolina's HBCUs to create talent pipelines doesn't just help to diversify industries. It also puts engaged employers at the forefront of the latest talent in a tight labor market. Pipelines can be a powerful recruitment tool to attract diverse points of view and backgrounds to help your business thrive, but it must be matched by an environment that celebrates these viewpoints and isn't just a great place to get hired, but also a great place to work.

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