HBCU Heroes: Building A League of Their Own

Being a hero is about making a difference and that is exactly what former NBA player, George Lynch, and Digital Strategist and CEO of Switch Media, Tracey Pennywell did by teaming up to create the foundation, HBCU Heroes. But this is not just any foundation. This foundation is all about leveling the academic playing field for Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU) sports programs through scholarships.

One way they are making this happen is by hosting virtual gaming tournaments to create space for underserved communities to pursue educational opportunities at HBCUs. Aside from the tournaments, there is significant importance for HBCU students to have access to eSport labs. In a virtual interview with the Co-founders, former NBA basketball player, George Lynch, further emphasized that from the business side and in the development side of gaming is what our kids are missing out on and they are some of the brightest minds in STEM. They are not going to HBCUs because the (Predominately White Institutions (PWIs) offer full scholarships to kids who game. So, if there’s a minority [black or brown] kid who games and wants to learn the business side of developing games; there are no HBCUs they can attend at the moment.

Additionally, Tracey Pennywell discussed how the gaming industry globally is a $160 billion a year industry; however, eSports in the HBCU communities have not fully caught on yet. Because HBCUs don’t have curriculum, programming, or Esports labs, the students have no physical place to learn about Esports. So, they’re missing out on a huge piece of the pie.

Esports labs is a way to level the playing field by putting three or more units (Xboxes or other gaming devices) into classrooms so that they can start coming together learn how to get into this multi-billion-dollar industry. This is why HBCU Heroes are excited about starting the league. It is being created to give students access to eSports lab opportunities, gaming consoles, academic scholarships, and awareness of STEAM and STEAM at HBCUs as a whole.

Starting this league is also an opportunity to bridge real relationships between gamers. After all, the goal is to get the word out to give male and female students on HBCU campuses a platform to compete in a gaming environment against other students on other campuses. In gaming, there are no guys and there are no girls; it is just gamers playing the game. It’s not about strength and agility; it is about intuition and how you play.

The first tournament was held in July 2020 in honor of the Honorable Congressman, John Lewis. It was a Good Trouble tournament weeks before his passing because the film Good Trouble was coming out. HBCU Heroes found it important to put something together for the players to play in honor of John Lewis.

And just a few weeks ago on December 16, HBCU Heroes hosted their second tournament, NBA2K21 Virtual Gaming Holiday Showdown. This tournament, sponsored by Intel, donated $50,000 in scholarships, prizes, and eSports lab funding to HBCUs.

Partnering with Intel, Dell, and Verizon has helped HBCU Heroes accomplish getting universities the ability to have a budget to create classroom space, hire a professor, and put all of the equipment in for students to gain access to gaming curriculum.

Join the league in January and/or register for the next tournament being held on February 3, 2021. Sign up early, get your device (if one is needed), and join in on the fun!

For more information or to connect with HBCU Heroes, click the links below:

Special shout out to the Digital Media Fellowship HBCU students powering the platforms used by HBCU Heroes!

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