For graduates of historically Black colleges and universities, the 90’s sitcom A Different World, wasn’t merely a show. It was a lived experience. And it is that experience Andres Martin aims to deliver to young students across the country through HBCU Night college fairs, panels, virtual events, and now a children’s book.
The HBCU Night enterprise was developed by Martin after graduating from Grambling State University and spending years in corporate America as a sales account manager for the Brooklyn Nets and a consultant for Live Nation Entertainment. The mission, Martin tells EBONY, has always been to “educate, accommodate, and celebrate a multitude of demographics with events and services.”
Over the next several years, Martin plans on expanding HBCU Night’s program offerings in order to build awareness of this unique college experience through digital experiences and live events when safe to do post-pandemic. Last year alone, Martin’s company was able to help connect scholars to over $52 million in scholarships in over 1,200 cities globally. He expects to increase the company's global outreach by 20 percent annually through grassroots efforts. HBCU Night the book will help with that.
Seeing the impact HBCU Night has had on the people who’ve attended sponsored programs and benefited from its work over the years is what Martin sought to commemorate in the devised tale geared toward young kids. “I knew a fictional story that can bring laughter and real educational moments to our young readers was something needed,” says Martin. “It’s never too early to begin learning about college so I wanted to create a fun read that gave our youth that start.”
HBCUs remain an important part of the American college landscape, enrolling 10 percent of all African American students and producing almost 20 percent of all African American graduates, according to the United Negro College Fund. With enrollment at these colleges on the rise, Martin sees an opportunity to keep that momentum going.
The Howard University Executive MBA grad hopes the book encourages Black children to believe in themselves and see the greatness that HBCUs help produce. “Self-efficacy at a young age is critical and my hope is that the inspiration from the story resonates and instills confidence,” says Martin. “I also hope the comedic moments bring joyful laughter our children deserve.”
HBCU Night is available now for purchase on amazon.com.