HBCU Week Foundation highlights life, educational experience at nation's Black colleges

HBCU Week Foundation highlights life, educational experience at nation's Black colleges

BCN Staff — Sept. 22, 2021 — This back-to-school season, the HBCU Week Foundation is giving high school students from across the country the chance to experience life at a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) during a week-long series of events, mirroring the legendary HBCU Homecoming experience. HBCU Week will take place in Wilmington, Del., and virtually, Sept. 26 to Oct. 3, giving students of color and their families the opportunity to participate in events such as Battle of the Bands, an R&B concert featuring Wale and Queen Naija, and a comedy show hosted by celebrated comedian and HBCU alumna Wanda Sykes.

The highlight of HBCU Week is its signature College Fair, at which students have the chance to meet with HBCU recruiters from across the country and earn on-the-spot acceptances and scholarships. This provides students an amazing opportunity to secure an early connection to college, community and culture at an HBCU. Registration for all events, including the Virtual College Fair taking place Friday, Oct. 1 and Saturday, Oct. 2, from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. ET, is available at HBCUWeek.org.

Since its inception in 2017, the College Fair has resulted in more than 3,000 on-the-spot college acceptances and more than $18.5 million in scholarships awarded by HBCUs and corporate partners. This year’s College Fair includes a variety of corporate partners, including Barclays and The City of Wilmington, some of which will be offering scholarships and internship opportunities, totaling over $6.7 million.

“Our goal with HBCU Week is to provide Black and Brown students the chance to experience what life is like at an HBCU, a clear path to enrollment, scholarships and the connections to confidently own their power throughout their careers,” said Ashley Christopher, founder and CEO of HBCU Week Foundation. “As a double HBCU alumna, I know firsthand that culture and community played an integral part in growing my confidence and helped me find and amplify my voice as a Black woman.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, last year’s HBCU Week was entirely virtual and saw record attendance and participation. In 2020, HBCU Week’s College Fair delivered 803 on-the-spot acceptances and $7.3 million in scholarships, including 226 partial and 44 full-ride offers.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today were it not for an HBCU. What I received from attending Winston-Salem State — a Brotherhood and Sisterhood best described as a Family Affair — exceeded my wildest dreams,” said ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, HBCU Week National Ambassador and alumnus of Winston-Salem State University. “I was surrounded by folks who looked like me, shared my cultural background and cared enough about me to take a personal interest in my ascension. From professors to administrators to classmates themselves, failure was not an option.”

There are 104 HBCUs nationwide, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Philander Smith College, Arkansas Baptist College and Shorter College in Arkansas. They represent 3% of U.S. colleges and universities but are responsible for 25% of all African American science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) degrees, and 14% of African American engineering degrees. Most HBCU students are Black or Brown, but students of all races are admitted. White, Hispanic, Native American, Asian and Pacific Islander students make up 22% of total enrollments.

“All my late-coach Clarence ‘Big House’ Gaines ever asked of me was to do what I could to uplift HBCUs across the nation. It is the easiest request I’ve ever received,” Smith added. “I’m honored to be the Brand Ambassador for HBCU Week, and I look forward to remaining so for a very long time.”

To view the full schedule of events and to register visit https://www.hbcuweek.org/events/.

HBCU Week’s major corporate partners include Barclays and The City of Wilmington. Other partners of the event include: American Institute of Chemical Engineers, AstraZeneca, American Chemistry Council, Bank of America, Capital One, Chemours, Delaware State University, Donate Delaware, DuPont, JP Morgan Chase & Co., LexisNexis, MLB, New Castle County Delaware, NFL and Salesforce. 

HBCU Week Foundation, Inc. partnerships have had a lasting impact on students. Notably, the Foundation has partnered with the American Chemical Council (ACC), American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), and The Chemours Company to offer the Future of STEM Scholars Initiative (FOSSI). FOSSI is a national chemical industry-wide program which provides scholarships to students pursuing degrees in STEM fields at HBCUs, helping to eliminate financial barriers for historically under-represented groups. Sponsored by chemical manufacturers and related industry stakeholders, FOSSI provides scholarship recipients $10,000 per year for four years and connects these students to leadership development, mentoring and internship opportunities at participating companies. To date, FOSSI has raised nearly $12 million in funding in support of 245 scholars. Learn more at futureofstemscholars.org.

Applications for all HBCU Week Foundation, Inc. scholarships open Oct. 1, 2021. Visit HBCUWeek.org for more details.

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