Verve Lounge, the hip bar attached to Rudi’s Resto Café, played host last month to the National Black College Alliance Christmas reunion event.
Around 65 NBCA members and alumni fought the cold weather to meet up with old friends and share their stories of how the NBCA helped them pursue a higher education.
Hosted by Chip Greenidge, the NBCA founder and executive director, the affair had the air of a family gathering as people reconnected and celebrated each other’s academic success.
With popular music playing all night, Verve Lounge acted as the perfect setting to allow people to mingle and catch up. “Young black people don’t really have a place to gather, to call their own,” said Greenidge. The evening was capped off by open mic poetry performed by alumni of NBCA.
Started in 2000 by alumni and college students at historical black colleges and universities, the NBCA looks to mentor the next generation of civic leaders.
“We want youth to see positive role models in college and the community,” explained Greenidge. To that end, NBCA members perform community service to help high school students apply to black colleges and universities. Those efforts include direct help with applications as well as hosting a black college tour. To date, NBCA has helped over 1,000 high school students in different capacities to apply to college.
Jamie Lyons, a senior at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School, went on a NBCA-sponsored black college tour this past spring. “It was a great experience,” Lyons said. For Lyons, the college tour was something different that allowed him to see several schools that he may not have had a chance to visit otherwise. Lyons is applying now to South Carolina State and Norfolk State University, two schools he visited while on the college tour.
While Lyons is benefitting from the outreach of NBCA, other alumni of the program praised its commitment to creating new community leaders from the ground up. “NBCA geared me toward community service,” said Moses Landrum. “It looks to cultivate leaders beyond just getting into college.”
Landrum, a resident of Roxbury and 2008 Morehouse College graduate, volunteers by going into high schools and extolling the virtues of how NBCA helped him into and through college.
Joianne Pyram, a 2007 alumna of Spelman College, found out about NBCA during her junior year of high school. “I called the Urban League to see if they had information on black colleges, they pointed me to [the] NBCA,” she said. Now living in Randolph, Pyram found NBCA so useful that she helped open a chapter of the organization in Atlanta while she was in school.
“They had such good resources,” Pyram said. “They were all about preparing you for success.”
As outreach grows, Greenidge is quick to associate NBCA with a youthful movement. Many young adults are heavily involved in the program and volunteer much of their time.
“Facebook works really well to get people involved,” Greenidge joked.
NBCA’s real draw goes beyond the offering of resources on black colleges and universities. Most important, it creates a community of young adults focused on civic engagement.
“We mix the social with the political,” Greenidge explained.