Butler College Prep Cultivates Black Excellence, Prepares Grads for HBCUs

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) offer Black and first-generation college students a uniquely affordable and supportive environment. But not every high school makes deliberate efforts to ensure its students know about these college options.

That’s not the case atButler College Prep, a Noble Network high school in Chicago’s Pullman neighborhood. Butler takes college preparation to the next level by encouraging its students to attend HBCUs.

Their students have visited HBCUs over the summer.

They’ve learned the history that led to the creation of those schools.

Butler has even brought the schools to Chicago through their third annual HBCU College Fair.

HBCU alum Traci Alexander, a college counselor at Butler, organized the fair. She is committed to ensuring Butler students have the option to build even deeper connections to their Black heritage and community by knowing their options among HBCUs.

Traci had this to say:

When I think of my HBCU experience, one word comes to mind: “pride.” To know your future, you must know your past. Attending Fisk University was the perfect bridge that furthered my discovery of self and cultivated me into the woman that I am today. I have a better understanding of my place in this world as a Black woman and the responsibility that I have to help the young women that come behind me.

Now that I am a college counselor on the southside of Chicago, I strive to give hope, inspire, and empower scholars to fight for something bigger than their realities. I serve the community as a change agent and a catalyst that will destroy statistics and stereotypes, and encourage future HBCU graduates to continue the history of excellence that can come from an HBCU.

And Butler students are following in Ms. Alexander’s footsteps. Logan Foster, who graduated in 2017, currently attends Fisk University. Here’s how she describes her experience:

As a young African American woman from Chicago, Illinois, I have always dreamed of leaving the inner city and the only possibility that I knew how to get away was to attend a four-year university. I am now a sophomore at the “illustrious” Fisk University and I am thankful to Butler College Prep for helping me make it this far.

I value my culture and I understand the importance of a higher education. Since attending an HBCU, I’ll continue to learn about my history and go on to medical school. I’ll return back to my community to teach them about the health issues we’re facing within our own neighborhoods.

Dozens of other Butler students like Logan are attending HBCUs, including
Kiarra Tate, now at Howard University, and Andre Jackson, now at Morehouse College.

There’s something wonderful happening here.

A community that’s under-resourced and often viewed as lacking potential has a high-performing high school sending students to colleges that deepen their cultural roots.

Butler is the perfect example of how investment, high expectations and caring and committed administrators can come together to create a great school that supports its students and families.

As future Jackson State student Jada Howard puts it, “Why wouldn’t you want to be around all this Black excellence?” That’s what Butler is cultivating in its students.

Photo Courtesy Butler College Prep

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Tanesha Peeples

South Side community leader Tanesha Peeples is a Chicago Public Schools alumna and proud Englewoodian. She currently serves on the board of the Montessori School of Englewood. Formerly, she served the Deputy Director of Outreach for Education Post, for whom she penned the long-running column Hope and Outrage. As an undergraduate student at Northern Illinois University, Tanesha began to develop a passion for and understand the importance of public service. After obtaining her bachelor’s degree in political science and public administration, she returned to Chicago with a new perspective on community, politics and civic engagement. Tanesha then attended and graduated from DePaul University with a master’s degree in public service management and urban planning and development. Throughout her professional career, Tanesha has used her education, passion and experience to navigate a number of nonprofit, political and independent ventures, advancing her mission to educate and empower marginalized populations. Prior to joining Education Post, she also managed her own consulting firm specializing in community relations. Tanesha’s vision is one where everyone—regardless of ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender or zip code—can have access to a comfortable quality of life and enjoy the freedoms and liberties promised to all Americans. Find her on Twitter at @PeeplesChoice85.

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