UNCF Launches HBCUv Platform To Advance Digital Learning

Young African-American man works on a laptop and communicates on a video call

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From politics to business, historically Black colleges and universities throughout the country have nurtured some of the most brilliant minds who have gone on to transform their respective industries. The United Negro College Fund is using technology to advance that legacy of excellence in academia. The nonprofit organization joined forces with Deloitte Digital for the creation of an online education platform dubbed HBCUv.

Rooted in community, the initiative is designed to connect scholars and educators and curate virtual learning experiences centered on education, civic engagement and career development. Among the nine institutions participating in the platform’s pilot program are Talladega College, Dillard University, Clark Atlanta University, Benedict College, Johnson C. Smith University, Claflin University, Jarvis Christian College, Lane College, and Shaw University.

HBCUv is slated to launch in 2023 with over 8,000 registered students and plans to extend the offerings and resources to other HBCUs in the future. Organizers of the initiative say the global health crisis underscored the need for adequate digital tools that foster community, and the platform will change the landscape of higher education.

“This isn’t just about getting more classes online, it’s about providing a safe space for Black joy and expression, giving students an opportunity to find their ‘tribe’ of people, and inspiring students of all ages by showing them Black leaders who are part of the same HBCU legacy,” Julian Thompson, who serves as director of strategy for UNCF’s Institute for Capacity Building, shared in a statement.

The platform has received $10 million in funding from a collective of philanthropic foundations and corporations.

The creation of HBCUv comes as more historically Black colleges and universities are developing tech-focused projects to boost student engagement.

“HBCUv will do this by embedding the culture, community and commitment to Black excellence embodied by HBCUs into a unique online experience that will form the foundation of the future of Black education.” UNCF President and CEO Dr. Michael L. Lomax added the effort will close “a major innovation and investment gap between this nation’s HBCUs and other higher education institutions.”

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