Some might say COVID-19 caused a triple pandemic across Black America – impacting health, housing, and employment. But it has also severely impacted 107 Historically Black Colleges and Universities that educate more than 228,000 students across America. A core component of HBCUs is undeniably Homecoming. This annual event is a time for students, faculty, alumni, and the Black community to celebrate its rich history, culture, and contributions to society. Because of COVID-19, there was no traditional homecoming scheduled for any HBCU in 2020 – depriving students of this deeply rooted tradition and having a detrimental financial impact on the Black economy.
The objective is to deliver a virtual HBCU Homecoming event that encompasses the traditional activities the Black community has come to expect and enjoy during Homecoming. Although football is canceled, virtual Homecoming will deliver five-days of entertainment, education, unity, school pride, and a sense of fellowship during this unprecedented time of social distancing.
Virtual HBCU Homecoming's goal is to bring a sense of normalcy to the Black community, celebrate Black traditions, and reach those who would not ordinarily attend a traditional HBCU Homecoming. Donations will be used towards student scholarships, university beautification projects, and general HBCU funding.
"You can’t stop Homecoming; our culture is too big, and our HBCU community deserves more. These times have proved to be trying, but we are going to give HBCU students everything we have," said Corey Arvinger and Justin Phillips, CEOs and co-founders of Support Black Colleges, in a joint press statement.
The Support Black Colleges clothing line contracted production company, L2C Studios, and creative agency, Studio Ten85, to create and deliver a unique compilation of video content to the HBCU community. The strategy was to be methodical and thoughtful in approach and deliver the right content at the right time – using the right platforms and partners. We identified Black-owned businesses that understand the HBCU community and created a team of subject matter experts to further our objective.
Day One – Virtual Opening: The virtual Homecoming kicked off with our hosts, Pretty Vee and Darren Brand of MTV’s Wild ‘N Out, and a musical performance by 2Chainz. Result: After multiple days of pre-event social media marketing, the on-demand opening had 12k video views.
Day Two –Financial literacy and “Pitch Please” Competition: A financial literacy seminar led by celebrity Anthony Anderson and Morgan Stanley. This event was filmed virtually with a live panel discussion. The “Pitch Please” segment allowed contestants to dial in and remotely pitch their ideas to a panel of judges for an opportunity to receive mentoring, funding, and/or marketing. Result: The financial literacy and pitch please seminar netted 13.7k video views.
Day Three – HBCU Sports Culture: This panel discussion, featuring Chris Paul and Dion Sanders, shared professional athletes' experiences and provided advice on keeping your head in the game. Result: This panel outperformed all other Facebook content due to an innovative concept called cross-posting. We worked with FB Sports on the effort that netted over 110k video views.
Day Four – The Main Event: The celebration featured entertainers 2Chainz, Ari Lennox, Mulatto, Moneybagg Yo, and others, plus notable leaders of various fraternity and sorority organizations. We partnered with Stomp Wars to stream their step show competitions leading up to our main event. This event was our most diverse and compact segment, resulting in an impressive 30.3k video views.
Day Five – Gospel Concert: This gospel concert included performances by Marvin Sapp, Kierra Sheard, Koryn Hawthorne, and Kirk Franklin- who each provided a personalized HBCU message. This event netted 6k video views.
We also provided mental health discussions, fitness sessions, and an on-location segment at Slutty Vegan, a growing black-owned business in Atlanta throughout the week.
While we continue towards our financial goal, we are confident that the HBCU Virtual Homecoming successfully delivered its inaugural program and filled a void in the HBCU community.
The event received nearly 200K video views on Facebook and YouTube and had over 8k social engagements. Specific metrics for content @SupportBlackColleges include:
The top three takeaways:
"The pandemic had a huge effect on many touring artists this year, including myself," Ari Lennox said in a press statement. "I’m super excited to be performing virtually with Support Black Colleges during their HBCU Virtual homecoming. I’m looking forward to the world opening back up and being able to see my fans once again."
"HBCUs have supported my career for over twenty years. With such continuous change this year, I’m grateful to SBC for putting together this Virtual Homecoming to bring hope, love, and inspiration to our future leaders. Me and my RCA Inspiration family are going to do our best to leave you encouraged on Sunday." said Kirk Franklin.