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DSU finalizes partnership with Braven mentorship program

Katie Tabeling
Delaware State University Riverfront Wilmington Delaware DSUpartner with Braven

Delaware State University partners with Braven, a career-readiness nonprofit, for five years to train college students in professional skills and leadership courses. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS

DOVER — After months of discussions, Delaware State University and Braven have signed a five-year agreement that will train college students in career-readiness skills and leadership courses.

Braven, a national nonprofit organization that focuses on boosting economic mobility of college students, signed a memorandum of understanding with DSU to create a three-credit online course as part of the curriculum for many undergraduate students. The program, the Braven Leadership Accelerator, will have 100 students enrolled in the spring 2024 semester.

Over the past five years, it’s projected that at least 2,100 students will benefit from the program.

“A lot of DSU students are first-generation college students and might likely be the first in their families to work in a high-paced, knowledge economy type role,” DSU President Tony Allen said in a statement. “To understand what you want to do for a living, to really be your authentic self in those settings, you have to talk to people who’ve been there. That’s the secret sauce that Braven will help to bring.”

In the Braven Leadership Program, DSU students will complete weekly online classes as well as virtual learning labs with a small cohort led by volunteer leadership coaches. Students will complete assignments to grow their leadership skills. Those assignments will focus on operating and managing, problem-solving, working in teams, networking and communicating, and self-driven leading.

Once complete, DSU could have the opportunity to tap into post-course activities like a one-on-one mentorship program in their designated field, job and internship alerts, networking and professional development events.

When the Braven program launches this year, the DSU students will join about 7,400 Braven students nationwide. The nonprofit has a partnership with Spelman College, a private HBCU in Atlanta.

“We’re proud to be in partnership with DSU to help Hornets take flight into their careers which will allow them to put their hard earned degrees to work,” Aimée Eubanks Davis, Braven’s founder and CEO, said in a statement. “We couldn’t do this without the support of incredible champions like Capital One, Barclays, Morgan Stanley, and M&T Bank who have made it possible for us to start this new site in Delaware.”

DSU has been exploring a mentorship partnership, as Allen suggested in February 2022 that the historically Black university was seeking a way to bolster the workforce pipeline for rising Black professionals. The university signed a letter of intent with Braven later that year, backed with at least a $1 million donation from Barclays.

Last November, Davis told the Delaware Business Times that DSU could be a “historic” site for Braven, as its growing student body opened up more opportunities to impact the next generation.

“If you think about the economic mobility of Black Americans, and possibly 800 to 1,000 students a year to go through Braven, they can see a 40% to 50% chance of uplift, we have the chance to put a lot of people on the path to the American dream,” Davis said.

The pay gap between genders and races is significant, even among recent college graduates. Early data from the National Association of Colleges and Employers suggest that men who will graduate in 2023 have a median starting salary of $72,500 while women’s median starting salary falls to $52,500.

Black women are paid 64 cents for every dollar that a white man earns, according to data collected by LeanIn.org.

Braven reports that its fellows have outpaced the national average for job attainment before and during the pandemic. Six months after graduation, 61% of Braven’s 2022 graduates secured full-time jobs or enrolled in graduate school, compared to 56% of all graduates and 47% of students from similar backgrounds.

About 68% of Braven 2022 college graduates have at least one internship during college compared with 48% of all college graduates and 41% of graduates of color.


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