Meet the Woman Behind HBCU Week Who is Determined to Change Lives


Vice President Kamala Harris perhaps described it best—attending an HBCU “feels like going to heaven.” And Ashley Christopher, founder of the HBCU Week Foundation agrees.

“There’s nothing like walking onto a campus of an HBCU as a freshman, especially as someone who’s always been the other. There, you’re the norm.”

But Christoper tells Essence she wants more students to have that opportunity.  As a proud Howard University and University of the District of Columbia grad, Christoper is reaching back and trying to encourage high school students to attend an HBCU.

“The academic and familial experience offered by HBCUs go beyond the classroom,” Christopher said.

“The cultural benefits that make HBCUs unique, from mentorships to celebrating traditions can only be found on HBCU campuses.”

In 2017, Christopher launched the HBCU Week Foundation and it quickly became a success. This year, ‘HBCU Week’ will take place in Wilmington, Delaware and virtually, Sept. 26 – Oct 3.

The week is an opportunity for families to participate and witness what HBCU life is all about. The week includes a Battle of the Bands, an R&B concert featuring Wale and Queen Naija, a comedy show hosted by celebrated comedian and HBCU Alum Wanda Sykes and a job fair. 

“Beyond the career fair, I wanted to give students a glimpse into the fun and excitement that comes with attending an HBCU,” said Christopher.

Now four years since its inception, the college fair attracts hundreds. Students attending the fair, have the opportunity to not only meet with HBCU recruiters from across the country, but can earn on-the-spot acceptances and scholarships.

In fact, the fair has led to more than 3,000 on-the-spot college acceptances and more than $18.5 million in scholarships awarded by HBCUs and corporate partners. This year’s College Fair includes a number of corporate partners, including Barclays and The City of Wilmington, some of which will be offering scholarships and internship opportunities, totaling over $6.7million, according to Essence.

“Our goal with HBCU Week is to provide Black and Brown students with the chance to experience what life is like at an HBCU, a clear path to enrollment, scholarships and the connections to confidently own their power throughout their careers,” said Christopher.

Registration for all events, including the virtual college fair ,which takes place Friday- Saturday, Oct. 1-2, 2021 – 9:30am-2pm EST  is available at HBCUWeek.org.


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