HBCU’s ‘Tech 4 Covid’ telethon helps bring equity to students
Nonprofit group HBCU Heroes and charity Cxmmunity are hosting virtual telethons through the end of the month called Tech4Covid that serves to benefit student-athletes at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and K-12 schools nationwide.
The events are being live-streamed each weekend from noon-midnight EST Saturday and Sunday on several platforms, including Twitch, Facebook Live, YouTube, Instagram Live. The fundraisers are expected to raise more than $10 million for HBCUs and school districts whose students have been adversely affected by distance learning during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We are excited that our partnership with HBCU Heroes will help amplify and benefit both organizations during this unique and beneficial program,” says Cxmmunity’s John Cash, an HBCU undergraduate of Howard University and professor at HBCU institution Johnson C. Smith University. Cash is also a featured speaker at this year’s Academic Esports Conference & Expo.
In addition to economic hardships, the lack of access to computers and Wi-Fi are causing a further equity divide, say organizers from HBCU Heroes and Cxmmunity.
So the two have pulled together some of the biggest names in music, entertainment and sports – Jeezy, DL Hughley, Cedric the Entertainer, Eddie Griffin, Bill Bellamy, Blair Underwood, Dionne Warwick, Charles Oakley, and Sheryl Swoopes – to participate in the cause.
“We’re pulling out all the stops for this virtual telethon,” says George Lynch, former NBA player and one of the co-founder of HBCU Heroes. “HBCU student-athletes and K-12 minority students need this movement to galvanize help. I’ve witnessed dozens of student-athletes scramble during this pandemic to get laptops. Many of them were using school computer labs or the library and now they have to find their own technology resources. Something has to be done.”
Jazz musician and educator Larry Ridley played host to the first telethon this month, and a number of prominent streamers are adding their voices to the events, including FaZe Clan, Erin Ashley Simon and Kalamity. Tuskegee alumnus, inventor and aerospace engineer Dr. Lonnie Johnson will lead a discussion on the critical need for STEM in minority communities to level the playing field, and several other prominent CEOs will talk about ways to support HBCUs, technology and more.
Both the NBA and the NFL Alumni Foundation have a number of recognizable stars on hand during the Tech4Covid show: Bam Adebayo, Mel Blount, Champ Bailey, Kenyan Drake, Harold Carmichael, and former Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants star Everson Walls.
“It’s important that we do not allow HBCU and minority students to be affected inadvertently by this pandemic,” said Walls. “By supplying computers for these students, this partnership is keeping them properly equipped during these ever-changing times.”
Being able to bring together this A-list of stars to benefit students has been a victory for HBCU Heroes and for Ryan Johnson, executive director of Cxmmunity and a graduate of HBCU school Oakwood University in Alabama.
“This is a phenomenal opportunity to leverage entertainment, esports, and music to increase awareness for this amazing cause,” Johnson says. “The esports industry has been an amazing resource for nonprofits who are able to leverage the industry properly to do good.”
Those wishing to donate to the effort or learn more about the event can go to https://tech4covid.co/