In partnership with Jarrett Carter Sr.
, a veteran journalist and the founder of HBCU Digest, we’ll work with up to six HBCU student journalists starting early next year. They’ll focus on covering their campuses for regional and national audiences while exploring the trends affecting the entire sector. (Know anyone who might be interested? Here’s where to apply.
“I am truly excited to partner with Open Campus in developing a pipeline of student journalists from HBCUs who will expand reporting on these invaluable institutions,” says Carter, who will serve as the editorial director of the project. “There is no better area than higher education to help emerging writers find their voices and hone their skills in journalism.”
The network is supported by grants from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Craig Newark Philanthropies, and the Scripps Howard Fund.
Fellows will be paid $1,200 per month. They’ll receive professional development and training opportunities, and select stories will be published by Open Campus
, with some of Open Campus’s local partner newsrooms
, and with Capital B,
a Black-led, nonprofit local and national news organization reporting for Black communities across the country.
A new generation’s embrace
The nation’s more than 100 HBCUs have received new attention in recent years. Some of the larger and more prominent campuses have seen enrollment surges
even as other colleges have faced declines in the pandemic. MacKenzie Scott, the billionaire philanthropist, made headlines by handing out surprise gifts of tens of millions of dollars
to some of them. And the sector has gained visibility with Kamala Harris, a Howard University graduate, in the White House.
Earlier this year, Erica Green at The New York Times explored the draw of HBCUs for today’s students
. “They belong to a generation whose adolescence was shaped not only by the election of the first Black president but also by political and social strife that threatened the lives and liberties of Black Americans,” Green wrote.
“For many families, the embrace of historically Black colleges has been influenced by concerns about racial hostility, students’ feelings of isolation in predominantly white schools, and shifting views on what constitutes the pinnacle of higher education.”
Still, HBCUs are under-covered, especially given the big roles that they play. Over their history, Green noted in her story, HBCUs have educated most of the nation’s Black judges, half of its Black doctors, and 40 percent of the Black members of Congress.
Big societal roles
More reporting on HBCUs is especially critical, Carter says, at a time when there’s growing emphasis on improving race relations in community functions like public safety, public health, and education.
“We can’t avoid coverage of colleges and universities that are overwhelmingly training people of color to lead in these industries and addressing research and development gaps for people of color in the social areas impacted by these industries.”
At the same time, Carter adds, we also should be expanding coverage of innovation inspired by HBCUs to tackle some of society’s key problems: “Child care, ethnic and cultural support systems, gender equity in leadership — these are all HBCU traditional practices that all colleges and universities are looking to emulate.”
++ Have story ideas, questions about the network, or want to work with us? Send us a note.