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updated: 10/20/2017 7:56 AM

ECC hosts first fair featuring historically black colleges

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Elgin Community College hosts its first fair Saturday featuring historically black colleges and universities.

Representatives from more than 20 institutions will participate in the free event, which is open to all.

It is designed to cater to low-income and black college and high school students in ECC's district, including 15 private and public high schools within Elgin Area School District U-46, Community Unit District 300, Burlington Central Unit District 301, and St. Charles High School District 303.

"The goal of this fair is not to detract from the excellent colleges and universities we have in Illinois," said Brittany Barber, ECC student life coordinator for targeted populations. "ECC is dedicated to diversity and equity. These are institutions that historically were created in response to segregation and racism, but they don't exclude others."

ECC's student population is 6 percent black, which also is representative of the district. While the fair is tailored to black students, everyone is welcome to participate, Barber said.

"Everybody can benefit from these institutions," said Barber, adding one in five students at black colleges and universities is not black.

Some of the notable black institutions participating are Spelman College of Atlanta, Fisk University of Nashville, Tennessee, Howard University in Washington, D.C., Morgan State University in Baltimore, and Alcorn State University in Lorman, Mississippi.

Within the past five years, 19 students have transferred from ECC to such institutions, Barber said.

"That's not due to lack of interest. That's just due to lack of knowledge," Barber said. "We wanted to make sure that students knew about all of their educational options. Knowledge is empowering. This is a fully immersive experience that celebrates and acknowledges that you have a future at institutions that have always been an advocate for your populations."

The goal is to make the fair an annual event and build partnerships with these institutions so ECC students can transfer easily after completing a two-year associate degree, Barber added.

The fair will is 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Building B Jobe Lounge on ECC's campus, 1700 Spartan Drive.

It will feature presentations by the United Negro College Fund, which funds scholarships for black students and general scholarships for 37 private black institutions. It sponsored by ECC, U-46, the United Negro College Fund, the Black History Family Festival Board, and Delta Sigma Theta Inc.