HBCU Collective: Join Us For A Day Of Action On Capitol Hill

HBCU Day of Action coordinated by @HBCUCollective is right around the corner to be held on April 27, 2017, on Capitol Hill.  It’s not too late to sign up, CampusLATELY will be in DC streaming live. Click here to  Sign Up Eventbrite.  We had an opportunity to interview two of organizers and gain a little insight as to how HBCU Collective came to life  We Spoke with Shambulia Gadsden Sams graduate of Shaw University and idea man Robert Stephens graduate and past SGA President of Winston-Salem State Unversity and a member of Alpha Phi Alpha.

We are the change we have been waiting for #RobertStephens Click To Tweet We are not just advocating for ourselves but for the next generation too. Education should never… Click To Tweet

How did HBCU Collective get started?

Shambulia: Robert came up with the concept and the idea of advocacy. He then reached out to his natural market and begin working to identify the best method to ensure more HBCU faces were present on capitol hill.

Robert: After seeing the HBCU presidents and chancellors meet with president Donald Trump and not much positivity coming from it I decided we needed to do something, as a man of action it was the definite next step. We convened a national conference after the HBCU Executive Order was released to review and discuss the terms. From there we took the stand of calling for a “Day Of Action.” 6 1/2 weeks later we have more than 200 people registered, other organization’s participating in their cities, universities sending buses of students and meeting’s scheduled with more than 30 members of congress.

What is the Goal of a “Day Of Action”?

Shambulia: We will meet with more than 30 congressional representatives from 9 am to 4 pm. At which time we will discuss our policy objectives clearly outlined in our 1-page document.  We have a press conference scheduled for 12 noon to brief the team and all supporters. We also have, team briefings scheduled during downtime. See below

What will we take away from this event?

Robert: One takeaway we can measure will be the success of Congress Alma Adams bill H.R. 1123. In speaking with congressmen and women we will discuss how this bill can help our universities and other HBCU’s. Next week there will be 250 people of color walking around the United States Capitol. We hope that this creates change and this sight becomes a common image. After this, each participant – their family – their friends will understand and have the tools needed to advocate for themselves.

About bill H.R. 1123 – This bill amends title III (Institutional Aid) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 to modify the HBCU Capital Financing Program. (The program guarantees low-cost private loans to historically black colleges and universities [HBCUs] to finance infrastructure repairs, maintenance, and construction.) The bill authorizes the Department of Education to provide financial counseling that prepares an eligible HBCU to qualify for, apply for, and maintain a capital improvement loan. It revises and expands reporting requirements for the HBCU Capital Financing Advisory Board.

What is Advocacy Training?

Before you join us in Washington, D.C. to meet with legislators, we want to make sure you are equipped with all of the tools necessary to be a success. In the days leading up on April 27, the HBCU Collective will be releasing a three-part advocacy training series.

  1. HBCU Collective Advocacy Training I: What is Advocacy and Why?
  2. HBCU Collective Advocacy Training II: Making the Ask
  3. HBCU Collective Advocacy Training III: Digital Underground –  April 25, 2017


HBCU Collective Advocacy Training II: Making the Ask

  • Be on Time and Prepared: Legislators are very busy and often have multiple appointments and time commitments in a day. Being prompt allows you more time with the legislator to get your points across. Being prepared is essential to getting your message across. Rehearse ahead of time what you are going to say and bring appropriate supporting documents that back up your statements.
  • First Impressions: The first thing you should say is “thank you” to the elected official for meeting with you. The purpose of the advocacy is to gain their support as a co-sponsor or sponsor of the legislation, speaking up in conference or writing letters to their own legislative leadership.
  • Meeting Tone: Advocates are there to educate legislators about the issues and not to berate or lecture them. Remember that honey always works better than vinegar. Never get belligerent or angry.
  • Budget your time. Be concise, but cover all the points you wish to make. In general, it is best to address a limited number of issues (three maximum). Most meetings last less than 30 minutes, so budget your time wisely and leave time for discussion.
  • Stay on Message: It is not uncommon for legislators to veer off the intended purpose of the meeting, especially if they do not share your opinion on the issue. Be vigilant and politely bring the conversation back to your message.
  • Be personal. Explain why the issue is important to you and to people in your district/state. Speak from your personal experience and illustrate your points with real people and examples, if possible. Explain the consequences that adverse action or failure to act will have on individuals in your state, city, or town.
  • Request action. After you make your points, request a specific action, and don’t be afraid to ask the legislator’s position. If they are currently undecided, ask them to inform you by mail or email when they make a decision, and to tell you why they took the position. If you are asking the legislator to provide leadership in moving something forward, ask him/her to provide you with a response or report on what happens.
  • Leave contact information. Leave your name, address, email address, affiliation, and telephone number with the member of Congress or staff. Thank them for taking the time to meet with you.
  • Stay in touch. Follow-up the visit with an email thanking the member of Congress or staffer for their time and briefly summarizing the major issues discussed. Be sure to follow through on any commitments you made and provide any additional information requested. Keep in touch with the member of Congress and staff through occasional correspondence and visits to the local/state office.

Sample Script


Hi (insert name of who you are meeting with), thank you for taking the time to meet with me. I’m a constituent of yours from (Insert HBCU) and I live from (hometown). I wanted to meet with you in-person to tell you a little bit about my concerns regarding increasing:


for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and to hear from you on policy fixes you are working on to address this issue.


Share the narrative of why you chose to attend a HBCU, what did you gain from attending HBCUs.

  1.       Share your story on financial aid and don’t be afraid to open up about the difficulties you faced in paying for college.

  2.      Share if you are in the STEM field, how additional research funds could’ve helped you and your classmates

  3.       Share your experiences with facility/building conditions and lack of technology at your HBCU and how it affected your experience.




More About HBCU Collective


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