The White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities kicked off its 2023 National HBCU Week Conference Monday in Arlington Virginia. The Department of Education described the week-long event as “the nation’s premier convening of key influencers in the HBCU space.” It was expected to draw 3,300 attendees from HBCUs, federal agencies, private–sector companies and philanthropic organizations.
This year’s gathering carries a theme of “Raising the Bar: Forging Excellence through Innovation & Leadership.” Speakers will include Dr. Miguel Cardona, the U.S. Secretary of Education; Stephen Benjamin, senior advisor to President Joe Biden and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement; and Neera Tanden, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. The week will also include performances by Black Greek-letter organizations and the Virginia State University gospel choir.
The White House Initiative on HBCUs was originally established by President Jimmy Carter in 1980 by executive order. It has been re-established by every president since. Under Biden, the Initiative is responsible for “develop[ing] new and expand[ing] pre-existing national networks of individuals, organizations, and communities to share and implement administrative and programmatic best practices related to advancing educational equity, excellence, and opportunity at HBCUs.”