One of the largest consortiums of Historically Black College and University Alumni in the United State resides in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Being close to Prince George’s County, the most affluent African American county in America, and lure of upscale jobs government jobs has long made this area attractive to the talented tenth of the Black educated professionals.
Sam Washington, a 1987 Alcorn State graduate and director of human resources for Advance Systems Development, had a vision four years ago to bring the area’s HBCU alumni association’s together under one group. A similar model spawned the Atlanta HBCU Alumni organization.
“We realized that HBCU alumni play a vital role in our community,” Washington told the AFRO.
The D.C. HBCU Alumni Alliance launched in 2012 and was established to not just to create camaraderie amongst people who matriculated at HBCUs but to collaborate and support the schools. It is an organization that advances the brand of the HBCU experience by recruiting high school students and introducing them to the option as a viable secondary education opportunity. Through sponsorship of STEM programs and with ACT and SAT preparation and tutoring, the Alliance helps prepare college bound kids for the challenges facing them coming out of high school.
Another mission of the Alliance is to increase membership in local and national HBCU Alumni organizations. At its inception the D.C. HBCU Alliance was comprised of only four groups. Alcorn State, Hampton, Kentucky State, and Fayetteville State made up the original quartet. However, over the last 48 months DC’s alliance has experienced exponential growth.
In Washington the Alliance is 44 alumni chapters strong and boasts nearly 5,000 members. It was initially a social organization fostering unity amongst Black College alumni. Now through community service and advocacy the reach goes well beyond the HBCU community. In addition to raising funds that benefit the alumni association chapters and the institutions themselves, the D.C. HBCU Alumni Alliance has become advocates for social actions and causes in the African American community.
There are three specific initiatives that are the focus of the D.C. HBCU Alumni Alliance. Washington says improving health, fighting hunger, and helping African American students receive a higher education, are the principles of the Alliance’s mission. The social synergy between the trio of programs is designed to change the quality of life in the Black community.
“With a college education you’re able to land the kind of job that will provide you with benefits that allow for proper health care,” said Washington. “Employment also means that graduates can feed themselves too which helps to alleviate the hunger crisis in our community also.”
This marks the fourth consecutive year the D.C. HBCU Alumni Alliance will host its major fundraiser. The HBCU 5K run and 2K walk is set for June 25 at Howard University. The USA Track & Field sanctioned course takes racers and walking participants through a challenging course in northwest DC. This event also has grown from it’s start in 2012 with only 600 racers to where approximately 1,500 are expected to participate this year.
With social capital and corporate partnerships, the D.C. Alliance is a vehicle for corporate recruitment and philanthropy. A portion of the funds raised during Saturday’s race will be donated to the D.C. Area Food Bank.
“We understand when you walk through the doors of an HBCU it’s not an entitlement,” said Washington. “It’s your responsibility to give back.”