By Megan Sayles, AFRO Business Writer,
Report for America Corps Member,
msayles@afro.com

BLK, the prime lifestyle and dating app for Black singles, is helping students and alumni come together to celebrate their historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). The app, owned by the Match Group, recently launched Homecoming Mode, a feature that lets users add a sticker of their HBCU, allowing them to discover and connect with their peers and show their school pride. 

BLK created the feature to ease the nervousness that comes with meeting new people and reconnecting with old friends, and its goal is to encourage users to make plans with each other for homecoming season. 

“ honing in on that energy and excitement that’s within the community and bringing that in the app in an experience where it still allows people to make those meaningful connections around homecoming,” said Jonathan Kirkland, head of branding and marketing for BLK.

So far, the top three Homecoming Mode stickers used on BLK have been for Florida A&M University (FAMU), and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (A&T) and Howard University (HU). BLK offers stickers for 15 HBCUs currently but plans to expand to more in the future.   

Digital illustrator and owner of Dame Design Sabine Quetant designed the HBCU stickers for Homecoming Mode. She thinks they’re a great way for people to spotlight their attributes and show pride for their identities. 

She looked to HBCUs’ student and athletic webpages to draw inspiration for the stickers. 

“I really wanted to capture the essence of the schools,” said Quetant. “For me, the biggest thing was I wanted someone who went to the school to look at it and recognize and connect to it immediately.” 

Launched in 2017, BLK was created because there were no dating apps serving the Black community on a large scale. Using dating apps created for the general public, Black people may not feel that they are well-represented on the platform, which can damage their sense of belonging, according to Kirkland. 

When he joined the company in the spring of 2020, the app had 2.6 million downloads. Today, 8.5 million people have downloaded BLK, 69 percent of its users say its uniquely designed for them and 60 percent of users say the app meets the needs of the Black community. 

In 2023, BLK will introduce communities, or chat rooms for groups of users to discuss their interests and experiences. 

“BLK is a safe space, it’s an inclusive space, it’s a supportive space but it’s a space where you can be your authentic self unapologetically, and we want to keep building that environment,” said Kirkland.

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