Since their founding after the Civil War, 107 historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), mostly located in southern states, have been instrumental in providing education, career pathways, and development opportunities to Black students. To foster a community of alumni and interested scholars, Ashley Christopher founded the HBCU Week Foundation (Foundation), which has provided more than $12M in scholarships since 2017. The Foundation’s largest annual event is its HBCU Week College Fair, a forum where participating colleges provide on-the-spot acceptances and award scholarships.
What was the challenge?
Every year, the fair grows in size, both in terms of participating HBCUs and students seeking college admission. However, successful growth generates its own challenges. As Deloitte and the Foundation reviewed these challenges, three main issues emerged:
- Challenge 1: With HBCUs at risk for closure due to low enrollment and funding, among other factors, they needed to identify, recruit, and enroll students as efficiently as possible—a challenge intensified by COVID-19 and ongoing socioeconomic disparities affecting Black communities.1
- Challenge 2: The Foundation needed to modernize its systems, beyond email and spreadsheets, to manage scholar relationships and event registrations and to connect students and HBCUs.
- Challenge 3: As a relatively new nonprofit, the Foundation needed help building a sustainable infrastructure and business model to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic and allow for future growth.
How did we come together?
Deloitte’s pro bono team helped the Foundation’s professionals develop and define their future growth strategy and helped align on enterprise strategy to build capacity and scale sustainably. The team also helped streamline the processes and methods used to track scholar relationships, manage events and registration, and enable real-time recruitment of HBCU students. Salesforce, a Deloitte alliance, was ultimately selected by the Foundation to support the development of a data analytics platform. Salesforce’s platform was created to help monitor student relationships and engagements with the Foundation from high school matriculation through college. In addition, it was built to provide a community dimension to enable better engagement with students through an FAQ function; community pages to publish scholarship opportunities; and a community campaigns function for students to connect with peers, HBCU alumni, and HBCU recruiters.
Deloitte collaborated with the HBCU Week Foundation to turn HBCU Week 2020 into a successful virtual event and to help guide strategic choices about future growth.
What was the impact?
The 2020 HBCU Week Virtual Experience was an unequivocal success. A total of 6,226 people (compared with last year’s 3,500) registered to attend the event, with almost 5,000 attending the college fair and hundreds attending the various panel discussions and lunch-and-learn sessions. The numbers tell a compelling story and help highlight some of the impact of Deloitte’s work with the Foundation:
Acceptances on the spot: 803
Scholarships offered: 270
Full-ride scholarships: 44
Partial scholarships: 226
Scholarship amount offered by participating HBCUs: $7,292,150
Scholarship amount offered by HBCU Week Foundation Partners: $280,000
Grand total: $7,572,150
The sustained impact of Deloitte’s work is also reflected in results that point to new efficiencies in the Foundation’s operations:
- 90% of all students now tracked in real time
- 234% increase of students currently registered year over year
- New infrastructure to enable an increase of the Foundation’s workforce by more than 70% within the next year
Thanks in part to Deloitte’s efforts, the HBCU Week Foundation now has an amplified vision and strategic road map to boost its operating model, achieve its desired future state, and scale sustainably.
1US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Health Equity Considerations and Racial and Ethnic Minority Groups,” last updated April 19, 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/health-equity/race-ethnicity.html.