A Kickstarter project called Blackbook University aims to offer academic and professional development to Black students and empower Black student life on college campuses.
The app is projected to be launched at the beginning of the 2021 spring semester. Co-founder, project director and campus student Ibrahim Baldé said in an email that the University of Southern California’s Race and Equity Center ranked UC Berkeley as one of California’s “worst campuses for Black students.” Baldé added Blackbook is an opportunity to change this perception.
“Racial inequity has maintained itself as one of the biggest institutional problems in both education and employment and a lot of the times this is due to a lack of access and support,” Baldé said in the email. “However, this wasn’t always the case.”
In the 1980s, the African American Student Handbook, or the “Black Book,” a guide of Black faculty, organizations and resources on campus, was an important resource for “peer-to-peer connection” for Black students, Baldé added in the email.
The Blackbook app aims to serve as a digital revival of the handbook for today’s Black students and to act as a diversity, equity and inclusion ecosystem for Black students on college campuses, according to Baldé.
“With over 30 Black-led student organizations on Berkeley’s campus and the rich legacy of student activism, we see tremendous opportunity in creating a platform for the Black student experience, starting here in our community,” Baldé said in the email.
The app’s founding team consists of Black students, including campus students Chase Ali-Watkins, Nahom Solomon and Nicholas Brathwaite and Kyle Parkman of UC Santa Cruz, according to Baldé. Additionally, the team is working in a partnership with Mobile Developers of Berkeley to develop the app for Android and iOS.
“We believe that Black students deserve a technology created for them!” Baldé said in the email. “We really want to work to challenge the perceptions of innovation and fundamentally design something with the sole purpose of promoting Black student success.”