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Tuskegee among 12 HBCUs named to CollegeNET list of 2019 Social Mobility Innovators

February 13, 2019

Jill Thacker, CollegeNET, Inc.
Michael Tullier, APR, Tuskegee University Office of Communications, Public Relations and Marketing

CollegeNet logoCollegeNET, Inc., a leading provider of web-based on-demand technologies for higher education and the developer of the Social Mobility Index (SMI), has named Tuskegee University and 11 other HBCUs to its Social Mobility Innovators list for 2019. The company’s list highlights HBCUs that offer low-income students a 21st century learning experience that makes college affordable, advances economic opportunity and restores the promise of the American dream.

The Social Mobility Index ranks nearly 1,400 four-year U.S. colleges and universities according to how successfully they enroll students from low-income backgrounds and graduate them into promising careers. The goal of the SMI — now in its fifth year — is to help redirect the attribution of "prestige" in the higher education system toward colleges and universities that are advancing economic mobility, the most pressing civic issue of our time.

The 12 HBCUs named Social Mobility Innovators for 2019 all rank among the top 10 percent of schools on the SMI. Along with Tuskegee, which is the only Alabama HBCU included in CollegeNET’s SMI, those ranked include Elizabeth City State University, Florida A&M University, Grambling State University, Johnson C. Smith University, North Carolina A&T State University, North Carolina Central University, Prairie View A&M University, South Carolina State University, Southern University, Tennessee State University, and Winston-Salem State University.

“Most higher education rankings evaluate colleges and universities as if comparing brands for consumer purchase,” said Jim Wolfston, CEO of CollegeNET. “The SMI, on the other hand, helps policymakers, students and their families see which colleges and universities are doing the most to drive U.S. economic mobility. We hope the SMI encourages more institutions to embrace and expand their role as conduits for restoring the promise of the American dream. The first step in doing this is to identify and learn from colleges and universities like these 12 HBCUs.”

"College education now constitutes the most important rung on the ladder of economic mobility,” Wolfston added. “But particularly when it offers a challenging environment populated with diverse ideas, personal backgrounds and viewpoints, a college does something even more important: it prepares students to encounter, navigate and appreciate the unfamiliar. Given that innovation always depends upon a person’s ability to consider what could be different from their own assumptions and experiences, economic inclusion is thus not only a solution to a social justice issue, it is a key strategy for sparking innovative minds."

The 12 HBCUs were selected as CollegeNET Social Mobility Innovators for 2019 because they each offer a 21st century learning experience that makes a real difference in the lives of low-income students.

“The 12 HBCUs that have been named as Social Mobility Innovators for 2019 are providing world-class educational opportunity to promising students regardless of their economic background,” Wolfston emphasized. “Their contribution and example are key at a time when economic mobility and the American Dream are rapidly deteriorating. Today, as tuitions at U.S. campuses continue to increase while economic inclusion declines, these 12 HBCUs provide a strong example for reversing these trends.”

CollegeNET acknowledges schools — such as the 12 selected HBCUs — that are fostering social mobility through innovative programs. CollegeNET presents the annual Social Mobility Innovator Awards to student success leaders from U.S. colleges and universities at the Social Mobility Summit — an annual forum on economic inclusion and best practices for student success held in Portland, Oregon each summer. CollegeNET recently published an e-book that offers best practices from student success professionals who are pioneering innovative programs that support under-served and under-represented students’ academic, personal and financial needs.

For additional information about CollegeNET’s Social Mobility Index, visit

© 2019, Tuskegee University