New program supports career success for underrepresented students

Spring on campus

The University of Oregon will launch a new program this year to support career preparation for underrepresented students, thanks to a grant from the Strada Education Network. 

A $250,000 innovation grant from the Beyond Completion Challenge will support the launch of Ducks RISE, a six-month success program focused on facilitating academic to career connections, building professional skills and expanding networks for underrepresented, Pell-grant eligible and first-generation students at the UO.

“Inequitable gaps continue to persist in postsecondary education," said Kimberly Johnson, vice provost in the Division of Undergraduate Education and Student Success. “We as an institution must respond to the unique needs of our students and provide equitable access to opportunities that lead to their success at UO and post-graduation. Ducks RISE will tap into the UO’s current networks to provide inclusive and structured support that will connect students’ academic pursuits to career success post-graduation.”

A class of students will start in spring term with a one-term course that focuses on developing professional competencies and building community and networks, followed by a three-month mentorship and experiential learning experience. Members of the campus community will be invited to partner and participate in the planning and development of the integrated program over winter and spring terms.

Strada Education Foundation created the $10 million Beyond Completion Challenge in partnership with the Taskforce on Higher Education and Opportunity to reimagine higher education and better serve students’ needs. The first phase awarded $3.75 million to 15 institutions to support initiatives that focus on equitable outcomes through and beyond college completion. The rest of the funding will be awarded later this year to expand the initial grants.

“This grant will enable the university to craft a unique and effective way to focus on the student experience and career readiness for underrepresented students,” said President Michael Schill, a member of the Taskforce on Higher Education and Opportunity. “I am thrilled that the UO’s ongoing success around student retention and graduation has been recognized by the Strada Education Foundation.”

Ducks RISE will focus on integrating post-graduation success into the college experience through developing career skills, networking, building community and exploring professional experiences.

“This program will center on traditionally underserved students and amplify the structured support for bridging connections between their student experience, from coursework to undergraduate research and creative work, to post-completion planning and goals,” said Kevin Hatfield, assistant vice provost for undergraduate research and distinguished scholarships. “Each cohort of students will develop a ‘college to career plan’ communicating how their transferable liberal arts and sciences knowledge and skills apply to potential career pathways.”