news hbcu to mentor virginia high and middle school students

Virginia HBCUs to mentor at-risk middle school, high school students

(© insta_photos –

National test scores reveal that students in Virginia lost extensive learning in recent years, but a new program will help at-risk students recover.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced Thursday a partnership between the Urban Leagues of Hampton Roads and Greater Richmond and four Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU): Norfolk State University, Hampton University, Virginia State University, and Virginia Union University.

HBCU students will be employed as tutors and mentors to high school and middle school students throughout communities, according to a press release.

“I am thrilled to embark on the journey of learning loss recovery with these transformational tutoring partnerships, this is a breakthrough initiative,” Youngkin said in the press release. “Our treasured Historically Black Colleges and Universities have proven to be leaders in the development and implementation of best practices in education. I look forward to the expansion of this key program.”

City of Petersburg Schools students will receive mentorship from HBCU students.

“The collaborative efforts from the Governor’s office are to be commended. The education of Virginia’s children is clearly a priority and I’m so pleased that Petersburg City is a part of this amazing initiative!” Petersburg City Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Tamara Sterling said in the press release.

Dr. Hakim J. Lucas, President of Virginia Union University, said that universities are seeing the need students have for additional tutoring “after a pandemic that has been hard on everyone. We also know that the seeds of success in college are planted long before students arrive on campus, and that’s just one reason why Virginia Union University has committed to full-ride scholarships for public school students in Richmond and Henrico. Today’s announcement expands this work even further, and we are proud to partner with the Urban League and Governor Youngkin to help even more young people.”

“Today, conversations and ideas took a huge step toward supporting underserved and marginalized children and young adults in the urban core cities,” Urban League of Hampton Roads President and CEO Gil Bland said in the press release. “The Urban Leagues of Hampton Roads and Greater Richmond joined with four Virginia HBCUs and the Commonwealth of Virginia to provide academic enrichment options through enhanced opportunities for tutoring and mentorship. The collaboration of the Urban League and our HBCUs represents a coalition of monumental historical context of organizations that not only had the lens of viewing Black history in America but were catalysts in the shaping of that history. As former Gov. Doug Wilder and others have advocated for greater HBCU funding, we hope this initiative will give rise to more such efforts to assure that every Virginia student is provided with a quality education that prepares them to enter the global workforce and help grow Virginia’s economy. The Urban League is pleased to help make this dream a reality.”

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.