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IPS students ready to start tour of HBCU campuses

Former Indiana Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon may be a member of the Boston Celtics now, but that doesn’t mean his Brogdon Family Foundation is through helping the Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) community.

For the past two years, the foundation has had a goal of sending students on a live tour of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) throughout the south, only to be derailed and delayed by concerns revolving around COVID. In 2021, the tour was held virtually. In early 2022, a weeklong tour of five schools was reduced to two, again adding a virtual component.

This year, though, the foundation has finalized plans to have a full, weeklong in-person tour of HBCUs, shining a light on schools that, for IPS students, are often overlooked and underused.

The tour leaves Indianapolis Monday, Oct. 10, and returns Friday, Oct. 14. During the trip students will visit Kentucky State, Tennessee State, Fisk, Tuskegee and Clark Atlanta universities, along with Spelman and Morehouse colleges. In addition, they will add tours of the Equal Justice Initiative’s National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the Legacy Museum, as well as the  Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Museum, The National Center for Civil and Human Rights, and The King Center and National Historic Site.

Jann Adams is Brogdon’s mother and co-founder of the Brogdon Family Foundation. She said the students in the district deserve to be rewarded for their hard work and patience. Adams hoped the tour could be realized in its full form, and she was determined to lead the tour to its natural conclusion.

“I just felt like Indianapolis Public Schools and the people in Indiana were just so well-meaning and my sense about the need for, for what we’re trying to do around literacy and, you know, high-impact experiences for kids,” Adam said. “So as long as IPS is willing, we’d love to continue to do it.”

Courtney Thomas is the 3E coordinator in the Postsecondary Readiness Department at IPS and helped coordinate the tours. She said after Brogdon left for Boston; she was worried the tours may never actually be realized.

“We were all holding our breath, thinking, ‘is this going to still work out?’” she said. “We were all really excited when Jann told us they are still committed to IPS and giving students this experience.”

The tour was initially designed to give IPS students a look at colleges and universities that they otherwise may not have even considered. Their distance from home, and their perceived lack of resources to attend schools in these areas often keep students from pursuing admission.

But HBCUs often have scholarship opportunities for IPS students that other schools may not, and they offer students an additional opportunity to study outside of their home environment, giving them an opportunity for additional growth and new experiences.

“Visiting these campuses is going to be a game changer for a lot of students,” Thomas said. “To personally experience it will be really great, and we hope it gets them excited about what their postsecondary journey looks like in terms of college, and just get the buzz going.”

The Brogdon Family Foundation has also continued their commitment to IPS through a book club, providing books for any students who want to participate. This program was also somewhat stalled by supply-chain issues caused by the pandemic but has been successful so far this year.

For Adams and the rest of the Brogdon Family Foundation, these programs are about gratitude and showing students there are options both at home and away. And of course, a little patience helps too.

“It takes a few years to really get a rhythm to do a good work,” Adams said. “I think it has been good, but we can do so much more. The love, commitment and care are just so obvious among the teaching staff and the leaders I just, you know, that makes you feel committed too.”