With The Help of ESPN’s First Take, Wilmington’s HBCU Week is a Massive Success

Updated October 31, 2019
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High Schoolers attending the 76ers Fieldhouse on Sept. 20th saw ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith and NBA Hall of Famer Earvin “Magic” Johnson Jr., and that wasn’t even the most memorable part. 

Mayor Mike Purzycki today announced the results of Wilmington’s third annual Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) College Fair, which was held on September 20 as part of the City’s HBCU Week. The Mayor said the event set a record for the number of students who were accepted to college on-the-spot and for those receiving a full or partial scholarship award.

The full totals are: 

  • 1,200 students accepted to college
  • $3.8 million in scholarships awarded
  • 63 students received a full, four-year scholarship
  • 420 students received a partial freshman year scholarship with an opportunity to receive additional scholarship support based on their college academic record
  • An estimated 2,000 students have been admitted to college and/or received scholarships since 2017 when the Wilmington HBCU Week Program began

The Mayor credited ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, who is also Wilmington’s official HBCU Ambassador, for bringing unprecedented local and national attention to Wilmington’s efforts by broadcasting “First Take” live from the 76ers Fieldhouse and for asking NBA Hall of Famer Earvin “Magic” Johnson to be a special guest on the show.

“What we started three years ago in Wilmington was an effort to recognize the historical importance of HBCUs and to highlight the rich educational experience available at an HBCU,” said Mayor Purzycki. “None of us dreamed that we could help so many students so quickly, but this is a movement that will become more organized here and perhaps in other cities, which makes the HBCU possibilities endless. I can’t express how appreciative I am to our own local HBCU Week Co-founders, Ashley Christopher and Earl Cooper from my office, and to the local and now national sponsors who are going to help this program expand beyond any of our expectations. As we increase the number of young people who attend college, we are forever changing for the better countless young lives as well as our local City neighborhoods, Delaware, and America.”

The Sixers Fieldhouse was the perfect venue for the event, given its seating capacity, location near the Wilmington Riverfront, and the buzz surrounding the 161,000-square-foot multi-use building. 

“This event is great for us and the city of Wilmington,” said Alex Yoh, senior director of marketing and communications for the Delaware Blue Coats. “This venue attracts people on a daily basis due to Titus Sports Training, Nemours Sports Medicine, and the various youth programs offered here. The entire event was a perfect example of entertainment and education working together to promote HBCU excellence and everybody involved is excited for what’s to come next.”

Articles originally posted on Delaware Public Media, Delaware Business Times, and Mayor Purzycki’s News Release.

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