Information & Data
The first HBCUs were established in 1837, more than two decades before the abolition of slavery in America. 1837 marked the first year free blacks were educated and trained as teachers at The Institute of Colored Youth, founded by Quaker philanthropist Richard Humphries. By 1902, white philanthropists, church leaders and free blacks had established more than 85 similar institutions for the purpose of educating the next generation of former-slave families. HBCUs of this nature were the only standardized form of higher education for African-Americans for more than fifty years, until the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed state-sponsored segregation in education in 1954.
The landscape of higher education has evolved alongside continued efforts in education-equality. The designation of HBCUs in the U.S. is crucial to maintaining universal standards in higher education and providing accessibility to all students, regardless of race. Nationally endorsed initiatives include Champions of Change, the National Association For Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO) and the HBCU All-Star Students Program, among others designed to empower minority students and inspire equal opportunity in academic scholarship across the country.
Enrollment of African-American students in colleges and universities in the U.S. between 1976 and 2012 has increased, according to the NCES. The percentage of black students in higher education rose from 10% to 15% during this time; as of fall 2013, a larger number of black students were enrolled in two-year post-baccalaureate programs (37%) than four-year post-secondary degree-granting programs (30%) or two-year post-secondary degree-granting programs (28%).
Reports also suggest that black students nearing college-enrollment-age are among the highest percentages of children under age 18 living in poverty in the U.S., however those who are able to obtain an associate degree or higher will see increased job opportunities upon graduation. Generally, associate degree-holders and bachelor’s degree-holders earned a median salary of $37,500 and $48,500 in 2013, respectively, compared to $30,000 for those holding only a high school credential. As enrollment trends previously mentioned show an increase among black graduate students, proportionate income also increased in 2013, with black young adults holding at least a master’s degree earning a median annual salary of $54,500.
Historically, graduates of a college degree are qualified to earn a higher wage and may also excel in professional and personal opportunities over less-educated individuals. Top HBCU programs are designed to combine academic support, real-world skills and vocational training tailored to the needs of African-American students. HBCUs in the U.S. continue to drive initiatives to confront educational challenges and to increase higher education opportunities in the black community. Many schools have expanded recruitment and financial aid efforts for black students to encourage enrollment, as well as increased support services to promote full matriculation at their respective institutions.