Hampton U alum Nicole Barnwell has kick-started an HBCU advocacy group– the first-ever in New York City– called The HBCU Hub

Founder of The HBCU Hub, Nicole Barnwell

Hampton University alum Nicole Barnwell has kick-started an Historically Black College and University (HBCU) advocacy group– the first-ever in New York City– called the HBCU Hub aimed at increasing awareness among high school graduates in Brooklyn of the merits of attending an historically black college or university.

The HBCU Hub initiative is being formed on the heels of an era when the cost of college has skyrocketed while access to financial aid has become increasingly scarce.

Historically Black Colleges and Universities also face a stigma where their merit as prestigious schools are questioned and the opportunities for advancement have been undermined by some legislators.

“We must do all that we can to ensure HBCUs remain part of the college-choice conversation,” the HBCU Hub’s mission page states.

HBCU Hub advocates from left: Justin T. manning (Hampton University ), Korede Amole (Livingston College), Nicole Barnwell (Hampton University), Taiia Smart Young (Johnson C. Smith University), Lumnwi Ngwa-Suh
(Howard University)

Barnwell, who was born and raised in Brooklyn, feels that New York City public schools do a poor job of encouraging and informing young black students about attending historically black colleges and universities.

“If not for my church and the elders who were HBCU alum planning the tour, I wouldn’t have had exposure to HBCUs either,” said Barnwell.

Barnwell’s sorority, The Brooklyn Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Incorporated, holds free college workshops for students, leading to a 5- to 6-month HBCU tour starting in October.

This programs is known as Team Lift. The tours often include visits to several Southern schools like Spelman and Morehouse in Atlanta, Georgia. Advocating and performing tours are more daunting in New York due to the lack of proximity to them as one factor. For example, the closest HBCU to New York City is Cheyney University of Pennsylvania.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“If not for my church and the elders who were HBCU alum planning the tour, I wouldn’t have had exposure to HBCUs either.”[/perfectpullquote]

Barnwell, an associate investigator for a financial firm by day, believes that if more black students in urban areas see more role models who look like them achieving in school and the professional world, it would encourage them to believe that they can also succeed.

HBCU Hub collaborator and Delta Theta sister, Korede Amole, says she is thankful for her early exposure. The Bed-Stuy native always keeps in mind that a lot people didn’t have the same exposure as she did growing up.

Amole has experienced the HBCU — Livingston College — and the experience of attending a predominantly white institution (PWI) — Stony Brook. She is currently a practicing psychologist for the state of New York.

“Any person of color, from any community, coming straight-out-of high school would benefit from going to an HBCU, because you have that perspective of a space that’s built for you,” said Amole. “It gives you a chance to find yourself in a support network that you don’t have at a PWI.”

The official fundraiser launch party for the initiative will be held September 15, 6:00pm – 11:00pm at KD’s bar and Lounge in Crown Heights.

Learn more about the party here.

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