This article was co-authored by 2U’s Managing Director of Degree Programs Ebony Lee and Vice President and General Manager Karlo Young
At 2U, we fundamentally believe that we can improve lives through high-quality education. And never has this been more relevant or important than during a global pandemic that’s reshaping what education looks like across the world and disproportionately affecting the lives and futures of people of color. Today, with the announcement of our partnership with Morehouse College—the nation’s only Historically Black College and University (HBCU) dedicated to developing and educating men—we are creating meaningful educational opportunities for Black talent to progress in their careers and pursue leadership positions that drive economic and social change.
Morehouse selected 2U as its digital transformation partner to deliver on its new strategic vision to create a Morehouse Online that increases access to the college’s iconic undergraduate education for men both within and outside of the Atlanta region. In collaboration with Morehouse faculty, we plan to launch a suite of online bachelor’s degrees, beginning with online degree completion programs designed for non-traditional students. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 3.4 million Black men over the age of 25 in the U.S. have some college credit but no bachelor’s degree, or only an associate’s degree. Through this partnership, we’re enabling Morehouse to embrace the digital era while preserving the best of what has defined their great institution for generations, and together, we are building clearer pathways to career advancement.
We have always been intentional about how we build our 2U partner network. Transforming higher education and working to bring universities into the digital age isn’t something we can do alone, so it’s important to find partners that share our vision. Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and expanding educational access are priorities for 2U. And as one of the world’s leading edtech companies, we believe we can play a constructive role in driving societal impact by expanding educational opportunities to underrepresented communities of color and bending the cost curve through partnerships with HBCUs.
For over 150 years, our nation’s HBCUs have played a pivotal role in society. These institutions have long-delivered outsized impact for students, providing higher returns at a lower cost. The data is striking. Morehouse propels more than one-third of their low-income students into the top-fifth of income earners. And, today, more than 100 HBCUs represent just 3% of America’s colleges and universities, yet they generate approximately 20% of all African American college graduates and 25% of African American graduates in the STEM fields—industries where Black Americans are significantly underrepresented—making access to high-quality degrees in these areas particularly important to increasing equitable representation.
In creating education and career pathways that lead to economic and social mobility, HBCUs are helping to close persistent wealth disparities in the U.S. According to the Federal Reserve, the net worth of a typical white family is still nearly eight times greater than that of a Black family. Morehouse Online will create stronger economic futures for students, their families, and their communities by helping to combat these systemic trends.
HBCUs are preeminent institutions of higher education for the Black community, and becoming their digital transformation partner is a privilege. It presents 2U with the opportunity to help these important institutions build on their rich legacies by extending their reach and impact beyond geographic and physical borders. We look forward to expanding our work with remarkable HBCUs like Morehouse in order to provide more flexible pathways to degree completion and career advancement so that every learner has the opportunity and skills they need to succeed.
Enrollment opens in spring 2021. Learn more about Morehouse Online.
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