Even though the 1954 Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education was a monumental decision that ordered an end to segregation in public schools, Black students still face racial disparities in the U.S. education system 68 years later. These injustices can be seen at all levels of the American education system, from kindergarten through college. Black students are forced to weather this racism at all institutions of learning, even at our Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The existence of racial inequity in the U.S. could be stymied and reduced with greater support for HBCUs and the students who choose to attend them. Large corporations have stepped forward to help with both financial and in-kind support, but it’s up to all of us, as individuals and wider networks, to push society forward for a more equitable future.
HBCU Students Need Our Help
HBCUs are crucial in shaping our next generation of Black entrepreneurs and leaders. Most students who attend HBCUs are first-generation college students from low-income households. These colleges and universities provide the essential training needed to bridge the opportunity, knowledge and experience gaps between Black students and their future careers in corporate America. Even though HBCUs serve as a catalyst for Black students, they still are not receiving the requisite funding in order to create thriving environments that will support their students’ growth . In order for HBCUs to foster the next generation of Black leaders, they need funding to keep things up and running. HBCUs and the students that attend these colleges and universities need our help.
What UNCF is Doing to Defeat Racial Injustice for Students
The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) recognizes and understands the racial injustices for Black students pursuing college. Their mission is “to build a robust and nationally-recognized pipeline of under-represented students who, because of UNCF support, become highly-qualified college graduates and to ensure that our network of member institutions is a respected model of best practice in moving students to and through college.” This organization focuses on the development of Black students starting in K-12 to ensure that they are adequately prepared for college.
Founded in 1944 with the singular purpose of helping African American students attend and successfully graduate from college, UNCF has helped more than 500,000 students receive college degrees.
Robert F. Smith’s Passion for Education
Robert F. Smith has been a longtime proponent of education reform and eliminating the inequity in our school systems. As a young boy, Smith watched his mother send a $25 dollar check to UNCF every single month, no matter what financial position they were in. His mother did what she could to help future generations of Black engineers, musicians, policymakers and more, and she instilled this passion to spur progress and opportunity in her son. From this routine yet powerful donation, Smith made it a priority to invest in education reform and provide Black students with the same career opportunities as their white counterparts. As Chairman of Student Freedom Initiative, Smith focuses the organization’s efforts on investing in education for underserved communities and providing affordable pathways to college degrees while simultaneously combatting the student debt crisis.
Learn more about Smith’s passion for education reform and what he has done to help create a better future for Black students across the country.