SOURCE: / HBCU Unit Network

September 10, 2008 12:23 ET

Black College Online Social Networks to Boost Alumni Associations' Influence and Income

ATLANTA, GA--(Marketwire - September 10, 2008) - Alumni Unit (AU), the fastest growing conglomerate of historically black college and university Internet social networks, is poised to become the largest online community of educated Black people in America. AU, launched five months ago, is not officially affiliated with HBCUs; it is largely driven by active alumni across the U.S. and as far away as Iraq and Australia. Thirty AU networks offer current news, continued connection, and a place to keep school spirit alive. With an increasing database of affluent graduates, AU is a new a force that promises to boost the influence and income of traditional HBCU alumni associations.

LeFoy Grant, founder of AU, has launched the community of social networks at a critical time, according to research by Rodney T. Cohen, director of Multicultural Student Affairs at Presbyterian College in South Carolina. "Black colleges have seen a decline in consistent alumni giving and membership into alumni associations," Cohen said in his research published this year in the International Journal of Educational Advancement. "[HBCUs] will have to make the commitment to cultivate innovative measures to garner and keep the attention of alumni. The future of these colleges is inextricably linked to their success in engaging alumni," Cohen said.

Grant's AU networks are a popular answer. The consortium of social networks -- comprised of more than 30 website communities, each representing an HBCU -- gets more than 200,000 daily page impressions, has official endorsements by three HBCU alumni associations, and has a database of 60,000 alumni and growing. Members of the 30 sites engage in group discussions, upload nostalgic and new pictures, create groups for common interests, and plan activities.

"From Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign to the ubiquity of text messaging and e-mail for everyday use, we are experiencing the power of technology to keep people connected and contributing to what they care about," said Grant, the AU founder. "Black alumni who remain active through these 30 custom networks are reminded via a compelling platform of how they can make an ongoing difference. Immediate access to thousands of affluent alumni in one place creates significant possibilities for the individual members, their alma maters, and alumni associations looking for new ways to build their membership and influence," Grant said.

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