Wilberforce, OH- Wilberforce University continues to position itself as a University unafraid of innovation and the intentional pursuit of disruption as a formula for institutional transformation. As a result, the University has entered an exciting partnership which resets the time-honored Co-Operative Education Program to establish robust college- to career and entrepreneurial pathways for its students.

The Co-Operative Emerging Leaders Program will provide an experiential learning engagement for students by placing them in workplace environments in on-and off-campus settings to gain the requisite skills and experience to position them for fluid pathways into corporate and entrepreneurial settings upon graduation from Wilberforce University. This represents an intentional re-imagining of the Co-Operative Education Program at Wilberforce University which was one of the first at an HBCU. Atlanta-based company, ChimeSolutions signed the first contract with the newly established Wilberforce University Foundation to invest $10 million dollars to fund the first cohort of 100 students in the program.

Chime CEO, Mark Wilson is a graduate of Wilberforce University and currently serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors and was, as a student, a participant in the Co-Operative Education Program. As such, he realized the transformation power of the Co-Operative Education experience and engaged in focused discussion with the University’s leadership to reexamine the relevance of the Co-Operative Education Program for the academic and career aspirations of the 21st Century Wilberforce University students and the changing needs and demands of the corporate workplace and entrepreneurial landscape.

Mr. Wilson shares, “As a student at Wilberforce University, my experience with the Co-Op Program was life-changing and provided me with a mindset and set of skills which set me on a course of success in the corporate work environment and as an entrepreneur. This partnership is an act of gratitude to Wilberforce and a demonstration of what collaborative and innovative thinking can accomplish for our students”

The Wilberforce University Foundation is the university’s primary fundraising and gift-receiving organization which was recently established as a non-profit, tax exempt organization. The Foundation will be solely focused on securing private support to benefit Wilberforce students, faculty, programs, and facilities. The Foundation will be led by Founding Executive Director, Natalie R. Coles, a Certified Fundraising Executive, (CFRE) with a track record of successfully raising funds for sustainability with organizations like United Way and UNCF, Inc. Mrs. Coles currently serves as the Vice President of Advancement and Chief Development Officer at Wilberforce University.

President Pinkard shared, “This focus on college-to-career readiness and entrepreneurship through the Co-Operative Emerging Leaders Program and business partnerships will result in two very critical outcomes; the creation of the next generation of African-American corporate leaders and entrepreneurs and the development of alternative revenue streams for the University thus eliminating our sole dependence on enrollment and philanthropic support.”

For more information on how you can support the Wilberforce Renaissance, please visit www.wilberforce.edu or www.wilberforceunited.com.

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About Wilberforce

Wilberforce University is the nation’s oldest private, historically black University owned and operated by African Americans. Its roots trace back to its founding in 1856, a period of American history marred by the physical bondage of people of African descent. It was also a period when the education of African Americans was not only socially prohibited but was illegal. There was nothing about the prevailing social and cultural ethos of the era that suggested that African Americans might or should be taught or could learn. Yet a powerful idea assumed life and Wilberforce University was born. The founding of Wilberforce University represented a bold, audacious and visionary example of what could happen when men and women of goodwill transcended race and the prevailing social and cultural constructs and norms to pursue a noble purpose. Today Wilberforce University offers 25 academic programs to students of promise from marginalized communities.

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