CORVALLIS, Ore. – A $775,000 grant awarded to Oregon State University’s College of Business by the national nonprofit Strada Education Network will expand career training and retention efforts for the college’s 3,500 business majors with an emphasis on increasing support for low-income students.

“Our goal is to make sure that every one of our graduates is ready to make an immediate, meaningful impact for the organizations that employ them and for the communities they call home,” said Mitzi Montoya, dean of the College of Business. “To reach that goal, we re-designed our curriculum to address workforce needs and better prepare students for their college-to-work transition.”

The College of Business will use the Strada grant to expand its Education-to-Career model and increase access to low-income students by:

  • Expanding education-to-career curriculum to third- and fourth-year students;
  • Providing scholarships to low-income high school students who participate in pre-college programming with Young Entrepreneurs Business Week, which provides summer camps to teach business skills to high school students, the majority of whom are low-income; and
  • Providing scholarships to low-income university students to enhance retention.

“Demands for new workforce preparation and the makeup of that workforce are changing rapidly, at a rate that most four-year colleges can’t match,” said Montoya. “We owe it to our students to adapt, and dramatically change, the way we deliver business education so that they graduate on time, with minimal debt, and prepared with the skills that their future employers need.”

The OSU College of Business was one of seven organizations selected from hundreds of applicants in the “innovative solutions in education-to-employment” competition Strada Education Network announced in 2018. The competition prioritized investment in working adults required to upskill as the labor market shifts and “disconnected youth,” aged 18 to 24 years old, who are neither working nor in school. The winners were announced this month.

“No one sector can close skill and equity gaps, alone. All of the recipients share our commitment to engaging with an ecosystem of educators, community organizations and employers to help individuals bridge the divide between education and economic opportunity,” said William D. Hansen, president and CEO of Strada Education Network. “We’re excited to support the OSU College of Business. They’re listening to education consumers as well as employers, and designing solutions that are relevant to the real-world challenges - and opportunities - today’s students face.”

According to recent data from the Strada-Gallup Education Consumer Survey, individuals who view their educational experience as relevant to the world of work are far more likely to complete their education and report that their learning was worth the cost. Employers also indicate that they prefer to hire people who gain practical work experience as they study.

The College of Business’ Education-to-Career model is a 12-course series on personal, professional and leadership development and embeds career advising, student-employer interaction and work-based learning into the student experience throughout the four-year undergraduate program.

The model launched in 2016 for first-year students and in 2017 for second-year students with promising results in retention. Students who completed the first year of the Education-to-Career model in 2016-17 and 2017-18 had a retention rate (percentage of first-time, first-year students who continue at that school the next year) of 90 percent in fall of 2018 and 2019, respectively. The national average for first-year undergraduate retention is 78 percent. 

The Strada grant supports the design of six of the model’s courses, along with activities to advance the placement of students in mentoring and internship opportunities with a network of more than 450 employers. The grant also enhances access to the model by backing scholarships for low-income students through a partnership with Young Entrepreneurs Business Week.

“Young Entrepreneurs Business Week is a mission-aligned partner to the College of Business as we focus on experiential learning that exposes high school students to business career pathways,” said Jeff Gaus, chairman of the organization’s board. “This partnership provides more low-income students the opportunity to attend YEBW programs, explore business careers and leadership opportunities, and ultimately begin a path to degree completion at OSU. We are honored to partner with Strada Education Network and the college on this innovate and impactful initiative.”

The new model will be fully in place for all OSU College of Business students by fall 2019. Learn more about the efforts online at:   


About Strada Education Network: Strada Education Network® is a national nonprofit dedicated to improving lives by catalyzing more direct and promising pathways between education and employment. The Network engages partners across education, nonprofits, business and government to focus relentlessly on students’ success throughout all phases of their working lives. Together, they address critical college to career challenges through strategic philanthropy, research and insights, and mission-aligned affiliates — all focused on advancing the universal right to realized potential called Completion With a Purpose®. Learn more at

About Young Entrepreneurs Business Week (YEBW): YEBW, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, educates and inspires the next generation of business leaders. Established in 2006, YEBW empowers young people to explore business industries and careers, while developing leadership and professional skills. Led by local entrepreneurs and executives, YEBW hosts week-long experiential education programs for high school students—Business Week, Finance Week, Investing Week, Marketing Week and Entrepreneur Week—on college campuses across Oregon:

College of Business

About the OSU College of Business: The College of Business educates students for success in managing and developing sustainable, innovative enterprises in a dynamic economy. With strong graduate and undergraduate programs, internationally recognized scholarly research, and an emphasis on experiential learning, the college helps students and businesses succeed.

Story By: 

Michelle Klampe, 541-737-0784, [email protected]


Jessi Hibsman, OSU College of Business, 541-737-1059, [email protected]; Lucia Anderson Weathers, Strada, 317-806-0177, [email protected]


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