Paul Quinn College (PQC) has received a $1 million-grant from Strada Education Network to further its efforts to eradicate poverty through its innovative Urban Work College Model.
Strada Education Network’s gift makes it the first major investor in PQC’s Urban Work College Network, officials said. College leaders will use the grant funding to expand the first Urban Work College site location, PQC-Plano.
The Strada grant “serves as another level of validation of the merit and the promise of our Urban Work College Network,” PQC president Dr. Michael J. Sorrell told Diverse. “We are very, very grateful to have supporters that see the vision, understand the vision, believe in the vision and then invest in the vision.”
In a statement on the grant announcement, Sorrell added that the college is honored that Strada Education Network shares a commitment to “building tomorrow’s workforce and providing pathways out of poverty for hard-working students.”
Because of the Urban Work College structure that foregoes a traditional campus and that leverages corporate and community partnerships, PQC has been able to reduce tuition and fees by nearly $10,000, allowing students to graduate with less debt.
Sorrell said the Strada grant will support the expansion of PQC-Plano – launched in July – by holding down the costs for students as they live, work and learn skills necessary for career success. Noting that the inaugural Urban Work College site is a “beta test,” the grant will also help college leaders gain a sense of what opportunities are available, he added.
“There are several things which we looked at and said, ‘We can do this better,’” Sorrell added. “There are several things that we’re seeing where [we say], ‘Ok, this is good.’”
William D. “Bill” Hansen, president and CEO of Strada Education Network, said that the organization is “extremely proud” to support PQC in their efforts to scale the Urban Work College Model at a national level.
“We hope that our partnership will help propel the model to reach students in urban areas across the country and improve education-to-employment pathways for all students,” Hansen said in a statement on the grant announcement.
Strada’s investment will be beneficial for students who PQC leaders say are “very aware of the magnitude of the moment” and are appreciative of the opportunity granted through the Urban Work College Model, according to Sorrell.
“We’re seeing many of them find their stride,” he said. “It is just so exciting to see.”
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