HBCU-Inspired Elementary School Opens in Florida

Jacksonville's Becoming Collegiate Academy is a tuition-free, college preparatory, public charter school aiming to replicate the HBCU experience for students K-12.
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Published on November 8, 2022
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  • Becoming Collegiate Academy was founded with the goal of addressing racial disparities in Black children's education.
  • Founder Cameron Frazier wants students to graduate "100% HBCU-ready."
  • The school's opening aligns with a recent resurgence in the popularity of HBCUs.
  • HBCU applications have increased by nearly 30% between 2018 and 2021.

A new college preparatory elementary school has officially opened its doors in Jacksonville, Florida. But unlike other schools in the area, Becoming Collegiate Academy is the first institution of its kind to be modeled after and inspired by historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

Upon entering the tuition-free, public charter school founded by Cameron Frazier, HBCU flags hang from the ceiling. Classroom walls are filled with images of the ABCs, each letter representing a different HBCU or Black historical figure.

But the school doesn't stop short of invoking the visual imagery of HBCUs. Academically, Becoming Collegiate Academy's goal is that 100% of their students graduate "HBCU-ready," with the skills and education that will allow them to compete in an ever-changing market.

Part of achieving this goal will be addressing the gaps in education that Black children often face in their early school years and carry throughout the remainder of their educational journey.

For Frazier, who began his education career in 2012 as a Teach for America Jacksonville Corps Member, replicating the HBCU experience for young children is key to providing them with the tools to overcome educational disparities and the representation that pushes them to dream big.

"It's very important that our students see role models who look just like them standing in front of them every single day," Frazier said in an interview with First Coast News. "It's extremely important for our students to experience it in elementary school. They need to see Black males teaching them academic content, letting them know that they are smart, building their identity, holding high expectations, and surrounding them with love."

Now in its first year, Becoming Collegiate Academy serves kindergarteners and first-graders, but it has plans to expand every year to up to fifth grade.

HBCUs have had a resurgence in popularity over the last few years, and schools like Becoming are sure to add to it.

Between 2018 and 2021, applications among the 13 HBCUs with which the Common App works increased by nearly 30%. As enrollment decreased at colleges and universities across the country during the pandemic, HBCU enrollment increased by 0.8%. And notable graduates of HBCUs, like Vice President Kamala Harris and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, have taken center stage in the public eye and have even credited their current political success to their HBCU experiences.

A recent report also determined that HBCUs are better drivers of social mobility for their Black graduates than other institutions.

Becoming Collegiate Academy is currently accepting applications for both students and teachers as it aims to increase educational opportunities for Black students.