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HBCU Heros - Supporting Historically Black College and University Athletics

NewsEx-Tar Heel George Lynch Trying To Raise Money For HBCU Student-Athletes
George Lynch HBCU Heroes Co-founder

Ex-Tar Heel George Lynch Trying To Raise Money For HBCU Student-Athletes

Former North Carolina Tar Heel and Los Angeles Laker George Lynch was coaching at Clark University in Atlanta until the Covid-19 crisis hit, and then, like so many colleges and universities around the United States, the school was forced to finish out the school year through distance learning.

With little warning, the students were told they would have to complete their semesters through online courses, but the problem was that many of them did not have computers or access to Wi-Fi.

“Nine of my 13 players had 3.0 grade-point averages or better, and I only had four scholarship players,” said Lynch, whose school was knocked out of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament by top-ranked Miles College. They finished the season 14-16, including 12-7 in the conference.

These days, as America and most of the world is shut down by the Coronavirus, many of Lynch’s student-athletes are unable to continue their educations as usual.

But Lynch and his nonprofit, HBCU Heroes, have come up with a solution. They are engaging corporate America and gofundme donations in an effort to provide HBCU student-athletes nationwide with laptops to keep their studies on track.

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Already, JP Morgan Chase Bank has already donated funding to support this computer drive via its Advancing Black Pathways initiative. That enabled HBCU Heroes to donate 10 laptops to Grambling State University for its student-athletes.

PROMOTED“Our students are determined to give this semester their best in spite of the dramatic shift to online learning from home. We are grateful for HBCU Heroes for helping us provide them with the technology they need,” said Richard Gallot, President of Grambling State University.

HBCU Heroes’ mission is to provide a minimum

of 6,000 donated computers. Other HBCUs are in line for upcoming computer donations.

HBCU Heroes has also created a consortium of

athletes and entertainers who have joined forces with them to support this initiative with donations and visibility.

“It’s important that we do not allow HBCU students to be affected inadvertently by this pandemic. By supplying computers for these students, HBCU Heroes is keeping them properly equipped during these ever-changing times. This is an invaluable resource for HBCU’s,” said Everson Walls, former Dallas Cowboys player who also won an NFL Super Bowl with the NY Giants.

Walls, who still holds the record for most interceptions in a single season at Grambling, is on the front lines with this mission.

“I played at North Carolina, and what I have experienced at the small black colleges is totally different from what it was like at UNC,” said Lynch, who famously was part of the multi-team trade that landed Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles (Lynch ended up with the Vancouver Grizzlies).

“I wore No. 34, and Shaq wanted my number,” Lynch joked.

“At big schools, you might use a pair of sneakers and then get another brand-new pair for the next game. At out school, you get one pair that you have to use for the entire season.”

What led Lynch and his business partner, Tracey Pennywell, to launch this computer drive?

“The need. Many HBCU student-athletes were using school resources, such as computer labs or the library to complete their assignments. Now they have to find their own. Some are even going back to homes where there isn’t WiFi to support their school work. Something has to be done to assist them,” Lynch said.

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Lynch and Pennywell joined forces to launch HBCU Heroes, a nonprofit that raises the bar and funding for HBCU athletic programs. “Our goal is to ensure all HBCU athletes have the resources to help them compete academically and athletically,” said Tracy Pennywell, co-founder of HBCU Heroes. “We want them to have exposure and opportunities.”

By providing students with computers during digital learning, the organization assists with:

-Increasing academic performance so students don’t fall behind, risking eligibility.

-Increasing retention/graduation rates by removing this barrier to online education for as long as needed.

-Decreasing the educational divide by providing access to updated computers for online courses which many students and their parents otherwise could not afford.

“We are asking for HBCU alumni, philanthropists, professional athletes, corporations, organizations, etc. to donate to HBCU Heroes so we can purchase and provide as many laptops as possible to support these students. We are on a mission to donate 6,000 computers nationwide,” Lynch said.

Lynch took the coaching job at Clark after working on coach Larry Brown’s staff at Southern Methodist.

“Basketball will always be my passion,” Lynch said.

“As a coach, I just want to provide my players with a great experience as I had, ” said Lynch, who credits his collegiate journey in part to legendary UNC Coach, Dean Smith.

Like many former NBA players, he wants to maintain a connection to the game, but he is learning that life after the NBA brings challenges that he never could have imagined when he was traveling to NBA cities.

“Even the little things like proper nutrition and training tables are lacking at these small schools,” Lynch said.

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Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are institutions of higher education in the United States that were established before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with the intention of primarily serving the African-American community.

During the period of segregation in the United States prior to the Civil Rights Act, the overwhelming majority of higher education institutions were predominantly white and completely disqualified or limited African-American enrollment.

For a century after the end of slavery in the United States in 1865, most colleges and universities in the Southern United States prohibited all African Americans from attending, while institutions in other parts of the country regularly employed quotas to limit admissions of blacks.

There are 101 HBCUs in the United States, including both public and private institutions (down from the 121 institutions that existed during the 1930s). Of these remaining HBCU institutions in the United States, 27 offer doctoral programs, 52 offer master’s programs, 83 offer bachelor’s degree programs, and 38 offer associate degrees.

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With HBCU Heroes, our goal is to level the playing field for HBCU sports programs. There’s a huge disparity between seemingly unlimited funding, sponsors, and alumni support that drive Division I schools versus the limited resources that plague historically black colleges and universities’ athletic programs. After experiencing both, I’m hoping to bring some much needed balance.

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