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The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and Deloitte Digital have teamed up to build a remote education platform for historically Black colleges and universities.

According to a press release, both industry titans have come together to design HBCUv. This online learning program will allow HBCU students to take courses for college credit and connect with peers and scholars from historically Black institutions across the country. Students will have access to the exciting resource beginning in 2023.

“One of the biggest advantages of online education is the sheer volume of data generated,” Edward Smith-Lewis, the vice president of strategic partnerships and institutional programs at UNC, told Inside Hired. “There are literally thousands of data points that HBCUv can track and analyze not just to predict challenges, but to match students with courses that fit their learning style or give faculty deeper insights into who their students really are.”

During the program’s pilot phase, around 8,000 will be able to test the groundbreaking resource at nine HBCUs. Clark Atlanta University, Dillard University and Jarvis Christian College are among the initial group of institutions that will adopt the remote learning program.

UNCF and Deloitte Digital, a creative strategy and tech consultancy company, plan to extend the service to other Black universities and colleges in the future. Eventually, students will have the option to take courses or complete their entire degree online.

HBCUs were drastically impacted during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Schools were forced to switch to remote learning amid the crisis, but many weren’t equipped with the proper tools to develop online infrastructure for students. In particular, small and privately owned HBCUs struggled to adapt to the unforeseen shift.

“When you are a small institution, and you’re just trying to keep your doors open, and you don’t really have money to upgrade infrastructure or to invest [in] platforms,” said Robert Palmer, chair of educational leadership and policy studies at Howard University. “It’s just not a priority because you don’t have the resources.” Fortunately, the initiative has received more than $10 million in funds from the Karsh Family Foundation, the Lilly Endowment, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for its development.

In addition to online classes, UNCF leaders hope the platform will help foster a sense of community among Black students. HBCUv will offer several courses taught by notable Black scholars from across America. The online learning resource will include courses on Black history, political science and race relations, among other subjects.

“This isn’t just about getting more classes online. It’s about providing a safe space for Black joy and expression, giving students an opportunity to find their ‘tribe’ of people, and inspiring students of all ages by showing them Black leaders who are part of the same HBCU legacy,” Julian Thompson, the director of the strategy for UNCF’s Institute for Capacity Building, said in a statement. “HBCUv will do this by embedding the culture, community, and commitment to Black excellence embodied by HBCUs into a unique online experience that will form the foundation of the future of Black education.”


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