Photo Credit: Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Coachella
Homecoming at HBCUs means everything — seriously, EVERYthing. If you didn’t attend an HBCU you might not understand that the actual football game is secondary. It’s something like a big family reunion, highlighted by celebrations, concerts and of course, the bands. For the schools, however, it is a lifeline — homecoming brings a sudden surge in cash for schools that sorely need it. An analysis of visitors to Delaware State University, for example, estimated that visitors spend an average of $250 when they come to the school. Since 1989 five HBCUs have closed and several others are hanging by a thread. These schools are our heritage and a legacy we should maintain for future generations. Homecoming shouldn’t be the only time they see cash from us and just $10 could solve their problems.
HBCUs graduate more poor black students than white universities but have paltry endowments relative to PWIs; they scarcely have the funds to recruit deserving black students. At this moment several HBCUs are struggling to keep their doors open. By comparison, in 2017 the music festival Coachella grossed $114 million — nearly twice the endowment of Clark Atlanta University. In one year a music festival is able to collect more than an HBCUs entire (calculated) war chest. Something has to change and this Homecoming season is the perfect time to begin that shift. Many grads (and non-grads) find HBCUs worthy of a trip annually during homecoming but they are also worthy of support, year-round. It doesn’t have to be hard, let’s keep this simple.
Do you visit an HBCU for homecoming each year? Is there a homecoming you make your way to every few years, perhaps? Make sure you start sending that school just $10 each month. Seriously, just $10! If you don’t have an HBCU alma mater then simply find an HBCU close to you and begin donating $10 each month to that institution. $10 doesn’t sound like much but if every Black person in the state of Missouri contributed $10 each month to Harris-Stowe State University, the school would have a few million dollars extra each month to work with. If every Black person in Los Angeles donated to the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Black doctors would have a launching pad into the medical profession.
We have a rich history and our HBCUs are a critical feature and link to it. Black institutions matter. Homecoming is an exciting, joyous and celebratory time and we should absolutely embrace it. Still, we must be cautious that we are celebrating that legacy and helping to sustain it all year long. Are you giving to your alma mater, monthly? If you didn’t attend an HBCU, are you giving to your closest one each month? You’d be surprised at what impact $10 can have each month.