(GREENSBORO, N.C.) — NEWS: For over 15 years, Bridget Chisholm and her team at North Carolina-based black-owned economic development firm, Building Wealth & Communities (BWC) Consulting, LLC has had first-hand experience with providing high-level financial solutions to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
As seasoned professionals, the firm has helped to build financial strategies to ensure infrastructure improvements on black college campuses and access to capital for major projects in underserved communities to the tune of over $153 million in transactions for HBCUs alone. But now, as the coronavirus crisis and stay-at-home orders have inflicted financial damage on institutions of higher learning like existing debt obligations amid declining revenues, HBCUs are left to tackle long-term economic issues that threaten indefinite school closures and ultimately the elimination of as many as half of existing HBCUs.
The state and fate of these institutions certainly warrants attention, and the question is not whether we should support HBCUs, but how best to support them during this time of economic crisis.
In this four-part series, BWC Consulting will lay out the HBCU value proposition and highlight key opportunities for building a 21st century educational playbook for higher educational institutions that ensures proactive measures are in place to create more agile and resilient learning environments. These solutions will help HBCUs meet the needs of the changing educational landscape by reimagining the unique experience provided at HBCUs and remodeling business strategies, endowment programs and virtual learning opportunities that enhance the overall campus appeal and learning experience.
By exploring non-traditional approaches to capital campaigns and endowment growth, such as an increased focus on securing engagement and support from the largely white-led philanthropy sector, and restructuring the federally-funded HBCU Capital Financing Program, BWC hopes to empower college and university administrators and policymakers to correct historical economic and social injustices that persist in our nation to ensure equity in education and non-discriminatory access to opportunity.
“HBCUs provide immense value-add to society and contribute more to the overall [black] community than most colleges and universities because they offer an opportunity for students to learn in a culturally-enriched environment and in today’s world, provide a safe and nurturing space,” said Bridget Chisholm, the firm’s founder and managing partner.
She adds, “We know how difficult it is for HBCUs to compete with historically white institutions on a level playing field in terms of availability and access to funding and fundamental educational resources like technology. The COVID-19 pandemic presents HBCUs with an opportunity and the motivation to revamp, and where it makes sense, replace antiquated business models with new business strategies designed to meet the needs of students better in an emerging 21st century higher education system. HBCUs have worked tirelessly for over a hundred years to produce black professionals in every field and we anticipate seeing them overcome the current challenges they face.”
Unlike predominantly white institutions (PWIs), HBCUs have historically struggled to address issues that have plagued these institutions of higher learning for decades. Disparities that exist between HBCUs and PWIs include inadequate state and federal funding, smaller endowments, access to financial capital and resources that best serve their unique circumstances – not just funding for major campus infrastructure improvements – and a lack of resources to support students from underserved communities.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shined a high beam in the face of academic inequality, the lack of economic resiliency for communities of color and ineffective crisis management and contingency planning for the education system. Despite these discrepancies, HBCUs continue their mission to promote black excellence and nurture the growth, vitality, and upliftment of the black community. For many local municipalities across the country, HBCUs are a major economic engine for the surrounding community; thus, the impact of the coronavirus will have a lingering effect for many years ahead.
To read part one of the series and to review BWC Consulting’s HBCU Post-Coronavirus Playbook, visit the website – https://bwcconsulting.com/part-1-of-4-covid-19-and-the-future-of-historically-black-colleges-universities/
About BWC Consulting
BWC Consulting is a minority-owned and led boutique economic development finance consulting firm. As a socially conscious firm, BWC takes a holistic, objective, and entrepreneurial approach to consulting with units of local government, higher education clients, operating companies, and emerging enterprises. Started in 2005 by Bridget Chisholm, Founder and Managing Partner, BWC has proven itself and established a strong track record structuring public-private financing for projects targeted to strengthen communities and the people they serve. Learn more: https://bwcconsulting.com/
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