Many high school seniors, particularly students of color, have several reasons to feel uncertain about the future: a raging pandemic, a sputtering economy, and cries for racial equity and social justice this past summer. But this week thousands of seniors will likely see a clear path to college as HBCU Week goes virtual for the first time, bringing the Historically Black College and University experience and instant college acceptance to laptops everywhere.
HBCU Week will present high schoolers with a one-stop chance to get accepted at a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) and secure a scholarship before completing the first month of high school. Many will then be able to finish high school worry-free without the struggle of navigating a complex admissions process.
“This year’s virtual HBCU Week will be a template for change for Black and Brown students,” said Ashley Christopher, founder and CEO of the HBCU Week Foundation. “Our week of virtual events will expose students to an authentic HBCU experience. Students will attend panels on topics such as financial health, female empowerment and becoming changemakers.
We round it off with our virtual college fair, where they can meet one-on-one with admissions officers and corporate partners, apply for internships, and potentially get on-the-spot acceptance and scholarships, all without leaving home.”
HBCU Week’s virtual events include a game night, a number of panels, and a live broadcast of ESPN “First Take.” The HBCU College Fair takes place Sept. 25-26.
A graduate of two HBCUs—Howard University and the District of Columbia’s David A. Clarke School of Law—Ashley Christopher started HBCU Week with the simple idea of connecting 200 Wilmington-area high school students with five HBCU admissions officers. In just three years, HBCU Week grew 3,000%, reaching 6,000 students with over 2,000 on-the-spot acceptances and $5 million in scholarships while collaborating with HBCUs and corporate partners.
“HBCUs not only open minds, they open opportunities,” Christopher said. “With HBCU Week, we’re exposing students to a proud history and legacy, and we want every student that comes through our virtual doors to walk away understanding that they can do and be anything coming from an HBCU.”
This year’s HBCU Week comes on the heels of an extraordinary summer of activism, when millions took to the streets in protest, and demands for racial equity and social justice grew insistent, and not just in America.
Many Black students, mindful of societal inequities, realize they live in a world that was not built for them. What they may not know, however, is that some of the best and the brightest in the Black community launched their careers after attending HBCUs, including Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Oprah Winfrey, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Marian Wright Edelman, Kamala Harris, and Chadwick Boseman.
“HBCUs offer Black and Brown students the chance to thrive and appreciate their value all while gaining an excellent education as we can see from the people that have graduated from these institutions,” ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said. National ambassador for HBCU Week 2020, he is an alumnus of Winston-Salem State University. “When you go to an HBCU and you see people who have similar cultural backgrounds, you no longer feel alone,” he added. “And when you see your peers excel, you become convinced that you can too. The HBCU experience offers students real advantages both during college and into their careers.”
There are 104 HBCUs nationwide. They represent 3% of U.S. colleges and universities but are responsible for 25% of all African American science, technology, engineering, and mathematics degrees, and 14% of African American engineering degrees. Most HBCU students are Black or Brown, but students of all races are admitted. White, Hispanic, Asian or Pacific Islander, and Native American students make up 22% of total enrollments.
HBCU Week’s corporate partners include JP Morgan Chase & Co., Chemours, the National Football League, Capital One, DuPont, Gucci Changemakers and many more. There are a variety of scholarships and internships available. Attendance at the 2020 HBCU Week Virtual College Fair is required for eligibility.
Alabama A&M University
Alabama State University
American Baptist College
Bowie State University
Clark Atlanta University
Coppin State University
Delaware State University
Elizabeth City State University
Fayetteville State University
Fort Valley State University
Jackson State University
Johnson C Smith University
Lincoln University (PA)
Morgan State University
North Carolina Central University
Norfolk State University
Savannah State University
Southern University at Shreveport
Texas Southern University
Albany State University
University of Maryland Eastern Shore
University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff
University of the District of Columbia
Virginia State University
West Virginia State University
Huston Tillotson University
To learn more about HBCU Week and to register for the events, visit hbcuweek.org.
About the HBCU Week Foundation
The mission of the HBCU Week Foundation is to encourage high-school aged youth to enroll into HBCU’s, provide scholarship dollars for matriculation and sustain a pipeline for employment from undergraduate school to corporate America. The most impactful event during HBCU Week is the HBCU College Fair. HBCU Week Foundation, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.