Today, recruiting and retaining students with diverse backgrounds is a priority for higher education institutions; however, this hasn’t always been the case. In fact, historically black colleges and universities—or HBCUs, as they’re commonly known—were created by black leaders prior to the Civil Rights Act in 1964, in response to predominantly white institutions (PWI) repeatedly denying African Americans admission. In celebration of Black History Month, we’re shining a light on the critical role HBCUs play in the higher education ecosystem and how we aim to support their mission.
Today, HBCUs across the United States face significant challenges—particularly when it comes to funding and enrollment as compared to PWIs. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, black enrollment in college decreased by 19% from 2010 to 2017. This trend also translated to dwindling degree achievement, resulting in higher education institutions placing greater emphasis on recruiting and retaining students of diverse backgrounds. Fortunately, as of 2017, recent federal data shows that HBCU enrollment is on the rise.
Our role as an EdTech company is closely aligned to the very mission of HBCUs: to create a space that drives academic excellence in the black community. At Blackboard, we’re committed to working with HBCUs to help eliminate many of the barriers preventing black students from achieving degree completion and academic success. While Blackboard offers the same high-impact services and solutions for all of our clients, we understand that HBCUs have a unique set of challenges. Our team is comprised of diverse individuals—some of whom have attended and graduated from HBCUs. This first-hand experience, paired with the extensive market research we’ve completed, contributes to our deep understanding of these complexities.
Over the years, we’ve worked closely with our HBCU partners to create customized solutions that deliver meaningful results and respond to the specific needs of their communities. One area where we’ve leveraged this expertise is with Blackboard Student Services—a full-service enrollment and retention solution that seeks to ensure all students have the tools to be successful at every stage of their academic journey.
Our work with North Carolina Central University (NCCU) is a prime example of the positive impact of these partnerships. Over the past three years, we’ve worked closely with the team at NCCU to optimize the student experience—from developing a targeted marketing and media campaign to providing enrollment support and coaching new students. These solutions offer digitally-native students the tools for success through continuous support and have helped boost enrollment in NCCU’s online and distance learning courses.
For us, these positive results are a sign that our work is just beginning. We’re committed to continuing our work with our HBCU partners to support them in building their vibrant communities and driving student success.