Virginia Tech is offering the fifth annual Black College Institute (BCI) virtually for the second year in a row June 13-30, 2021.

BCI is a free, four-day academic summer enrichment program that invites high-achieving students from underrepresented populations to campus. BCI supports Virginia Tech’s strategic priority to “Elevate the Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) Difference” and its goal to increase representational diversity. 

The three-week summer institute is a partnership between the Office for Inclusion and Diversity and the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, with the support of President Tim Sands and Menah Pratt-Clarke, vice president for strategic affairs and diversity. The program bolsters recruitment efforts and is part of the institution’s commitment to increase student diversity on campus by the year 2022. Following the program's completion, more than 97 percent of all BCI participants in 2020 indicated they planned to enroll in college.

Participants of BCI will be able to virtually meet with faculty from each of Virginia Tech’s academic colleges, as well as representatives from the admissions office and Corps of Cadets. Through interactive activities, students will explore different career fields and learn more on college access and affordability. The curriculum also includes a social justice project, which offers participants the opportunity to learn how to conduct collegiate research.

Virginia Tech students serve as student staff leaders (SSLs) and hosts for the virtual sessions, which allows participants to start building strong networks with peers, faculty, and staff. The SSL peer mentors facilitate group discussions, aid in the research project, and offer engaging panels that explore the experiences of underrepresented minority students at the university.

Undergraduate Admissions and Student Opportunities and Achievement Resources (SOAR) team members facilitate the program. SOAR is a student-facing unit that focuses on the academic success and holistic support of underrepresented students. BCI is a priority project for 2021.

“The dedication and excitement from the faculty, staff, and students who participated was truly inspiring,” said Crasha V. Townsend, director of SOAR and chair for BCI. “I am thrilled at the impact we made on our 400-plus attendees, especially in transitioning to a virtual format. We are using the momentum from last year’s success as we begin recruitment for this year.”

“It is refreshing to see our students adjust to the virtual environment so successfully,” said Duston Scarborough, associate director of SOAR. “Because of COVID-19, the BCI 2020 participants missed the on-campus portion of the program, but I’m proud to say that our participants were still able to complete a research project alongside other high-achieving scholars.”

Applications are being accepted at https://vt.edu/admissions/black-college-institute.html until April 1, 2021. For more information about BCI or SOAR, contact Crasha Townsend at crasha@vt.edu