Washington University in St. Louis has joined 37 other universities and partner organizations to launch the Taskforce on Higher Education and Opportunity. The task force will study how to ensure graduates succeed in the post-pandemic economy, strengthen partnerships with local communities and reimagine higher education in a way that supports students of all backgrounds.
Schools will take individual and collective action to meet these goals starting with the first round of initiatives to prepare the graduates for career success. Washington University has recently started the Chancellor’s Career Fellows Program, which provides low-income and first-generation students career coaching and up to a $5,000 stipend for an unpaid or underpaid internship.
Task force members say the need for action is urgent. In addition to the ongoing health crisis, rising income inequality, and the changing nature of work, today’s graduates face unemployment rates nearly double that of the last recession. The impact of this crisis is not falling evenly across all segments of the populations, leaving many vulnerable people in need of support.