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CCDM Partnership in the Retention and Advancement of Students of Color: Forty-two years of Career Services to Aid Students, Colleges, and Employers: by Aretha F. Marbley & Verna G. Bennett
SOUTHPORT, CT –/ -- DiversityBusiness.com /- This article highlights Council on Career Development for Minorities, Inc’s. (CCDM), 42-year experience working to provide career services to employers and minority serving institutions for the retention and advancement of underrepresented college students. It provides discourse on the inherent educational benefits and value of having a diverse college graduate pool. From their professional experiences with CCDM, the authors offer suggestions to illustrate effective methods to improve campus diversity and strategies for advancing career interventions in the next decade.

In 2007, the challenge of minority education has expanded beyond simple access to include the recruitment, retention, graduation, and career placement of students of color. These are not new issues. Students of color have been underrepresented in undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools for more than a half-century (Johnson, 1996). Kemp (1990) wrote that “There is a national crisis in the American university and college system regarding the status of African-American and other minority students” (p.144).

Further, the national crisis is not just a story confined to the educational system, but also includes our nation’s growing globalization and our productive capacity to meet the increasingly competitive global economy. Phillips (1991) has argued that this underrepresentation of people of color in academe and in the labor force created a national urgency to enlarge the pool of well-prepared students of color. Thus, there is a natural alliance among diversity, business, and education initiatives to assure the success of people of color. In other words, to make diversity initiatives in education and business successful, we must find strategies to increase representation of groups of color in higher education by demanding that college administrators be more proactive in attempts to maintain a diverse student body and challenge corporations to be proactive in their recruitment and hiring of women and students of color.

Accordingly, this article takes a closer look at Council on Career Development for Minorities, Inc. (CCDM), a career-development organization that rode the tides of sexual and racial discrimination, weathered the storms of massive changes in the workplace, and continued to provide needed services to minority-serving institutions and students of color. As a result, it has hand-delivered a highly qualified, ethnically and racially diverse college graduate pool to the doorsteps of major corporations such as American Express, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Arco, General Electric, Wachovia Bank, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Merck. In brief, for more than four decades CCDM has provided excellent training, initiatives, and strategies on diversity in the form of career development services to college career development administrators, students of color, and minority-serving institutions. In this manner, CCDM, an ally to students, colleges, and corporations, is one of the best kept secrets in the business and education industries

Creation of CCDM
This small, national nonprofit was created in 1965 with a focus on students attending historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) as a corporate recruitment, diversity solution. This was one year after the passing of the 1964 Civic Rights Act, which assured equal employment opportunities especially for African Americans. Over the next couple of decades, CCDM witnessed new trends in career development and massive shifts in the workforce, specifically, accountability, technology, and demographics bringing with them new opportunities in access to educational and career opportunities for people of color. For example, there was a growing demand for not only skilled, qualified, and college-educated workers, but a more racially and ethnically diverse workforce.

Consequently in 1986, CCDM made three internal modifications to reflect more contemporary times and ultimately to expand and serve a more pluralistic constituency, CCDM (a) changed its name from College Placement Services to CCDM; (b) expanded its services for diversity to include Hispanic Americans and Native American Indian college students; and (c) relocated from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to Dallas, Texas to be closer to an area where a large number of Hispanic/Latino, African Americans, and Native American Indian student constituencies resided..

CCDM has enjoyed a 40-plus-year success with providing career and employment placement services to a variety on constituents including a holistic and grassroots approach to utilizing career interventions. As one former Hispanic female board member wrote, “That was an experience that truly introduced me to some outstanding people who made things happened. Serving on the board and being a young Hispanic female challenged me to take a more active role in my career” (Morton & Adams, 2006).

Improving Campus Racial Diversity
A genuine commitment to diversity is a necessary prerequisite to improving campus racial diversity and enriching the college climate. In essence, this means that colleges must have a critical mass of underrepresented groups, creating a campus environment where faculty and students of color feel valued and are successful. This includes administrators, faculty, staff, and students having awareness, knowledge and understanding of differences, valuing diversity and respecting cultural differences. Nonetheless, with some measure of caution, we offer the following suggestions for improving campus diversity.

Create a critical mass. Showing a genuine commitment to increase minority student recruitment and admission is a necessary first step. The research shows that having a critical mass improves recruitment and retention of students of color. This is important to aggressively seek to increase the number of faculty of color and senior-level administrators of color through recruitment, promotion, and tenure of faculty, and the retention and promotion of administrators of color.

Support career training institutes.
Career training institutes provide focused career training, professional development classes, diversity training, and continuing education for career professionals. It also provides students not only with career and employment opportunities, but also with the training that is needed to work in top fields including business, technology, and healthcare. Finally, training institutes provide corporate diversity recruitment of executives of color with a crème de la crème college student graduate pool.

Establish and support community Outreach. Colleges and universities must connect with indigenous systems within community of colors such as fraternal, civic and social institutions by investing the time and energy needed to build mutual and solid relationships. This includes soliciting input from extended families, churches, community organizations (e.g., local chapters of the 100 Black Men, Inc. and the NAACP), and minority-owned businesses, and providing reciprocity.

Career Interventions in the Next Decade
On the heels of technological advances, a global economy, rapidly changing demographics of the population, and a lack of education-ready recruitment talent pool for new and emerging jobs, CCDM will move aggressively in the next decade towards advancing career development. Strategies for moving diversity forward include building stronger outreach relationships with targeted precollege and college organizations to better educate students, especially those of color, on the labor force forecasts and occupations where more diversity is needed. CCDM has designed customized partnerships of employer-sponsored activities to help create more diverse pipelines in key areas such as financial services, information technology, and medical and health related fields.

Inasmuch as, technology, especially to Millennial college students, is critical to their academic success and career opportunities, CCDM created an created IT user friendly, cost effective training and recruiting diversity tools to aid employers in its hiring, retention, and upward mobility efforts. Lastly, CCDM will continue the training institutes for career development professionals at minority serving institutes while increasing annually the number of JAT Fellowships to ensure adequate diversity personnel who serve in and meet the needs of the student career development services centers in higher education.

In spite of apparent legal retreats (e.g., Hopwood Decision, California Proposition 209) away from the inclusion of diverse groups in higher education and a reactionary republican administration that won’t even protest environmental regulations let alone human rights, the push in minority education must proceed as CCDM has; that is, changing the consciousness, stereotypes, and practices of discrimination against groups of color with a commitment to diversity, collaboration with businesses, minority-serving institutions, and predominantly White institutions, and preparing and providing opportunities for underrepresented groups. Institutions of higher education must employ not reactive, but proactive strategies that improve campus climate and support racial diversity.

Authors: Aretha F. Marbley, Associate Professor, Texas Tech University, Executive Board Chair Council on Career Development for Minorities, Inc
and Verna G. Bennett Executive Director Council on Career Development for Minorities, Inc

About DiversityBusiness.com
Launched in 1999, DiversityBusiness, with over 50,000 members, is the largest organization of diversity owned businesses throughout the United States that provide goods and services to Fortune 1000 companies, government agencies, and colleges and universities. DiversityBusiness provides research and data collection services for diversity including the "Top 50 Organizations for Multicultural Business Opportunities", "Top 500 Diversity Owned Companies in America", and others. Its research has been recognized and published by Forbes Magazine, Business Week and thousands of other print and internet publications. The site has gained national recognition and has won numerous awards for its content and design. DiversityBusiness reaches more diverse suppliers and communicates more information to them on a more frequent basis then all other organizations combined. We also communicate with mainstream businesses, government agencies and educational institutions with information related to diversity. Our magazine reaches over 300,000 readers, a monthly e-newsletter that reaches 2.4 million, and website visitors of 1.2 million a month. It is a leading provider of Supplier Diversity management tools and has the most widely distributed Diversity magazine in the United States. DiversityBusiness.com is produced by Computer Consulting Associates International Inc. (CCAii.com) of Southport, CT. Founded in 1980.

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