Meet The Woman Who’s Exposing High School Students To The Value of the HBCU Experience
Credit: Ashley Christopher

“There’s nothing like walking onto a campus of an HBCU as a freshman, especially as someone who’s always been the other. There, you’re the norm.” 

Ashley Christopher, founder of HBCU Week and the HBCU Week Foundation says she wants every student of color to feel the way she did while in college. The double HBCU grad said her time at Howard University and the University of the District of Columbia instilled a sense of confidence in her that was necessary for future success. 

This year, ‘HBCU Week’ will take place in Wilmington, Delaware and virtually, Sept. 26 – 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 Alum Wanda Sykes.

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“The academic and familial experience offered by HBCUs go beyond the classroom,” Christopher said. “The cultural benefits that make HBCUs unique, from mentorships to celebrating traditions can only be found on HBCU campuses.” 

Her life-changing time as a student drove her to found the HBCU Week Foundation years later in 2017, which began as a job fair for local students in Wilmington, Delaware. After the initial list of 200 quickly grew to 700 high schoolers, Christopher knew she had something special on her hands. 

“Beyond the career fair, I wanted to give students a glimpse into the fun and excitement that comes with attending an HBCU,” said Christopher. 

Now, four years later the HBCU Week Foundation has consistently offered aspiring college students from across the country the chance to gain insight into the value of attending a historically Black or university during a week-long series of events, mirroring the legendary HBCU Homecoming experience. 

But the highlight of HBCU Week is its signature College Fair, where 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- Saturday, Oct. 1-2, 2021 – 9:30am-2pm EST) is available at HBCUWeek.org.

The College Fair piece of HBCU Week 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, totalling over $6.7million.

“Our goal with HBCU Week is to provide Black and Brown students with 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 Christopher.  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.

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