By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Historically Black colleges and universities are seeing record enrollment numbers this year.

The Twin Cities is seeing more of its high school graduates enrolling at HBCUs.

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Howard University has its largest freshman class in the University’s 154 year history, and some believe a rise in racial tensions helped increase enrollment.

When it came to choosing a college, Maximillon Fountain knew he wanted that Black college experience.

“I wanted to experience being part of the majority and not a minority. I guess that would explain why I chose an HBCU. But I chose Morehouse to become a Morehouse man be part of a brotherhood and hopefully one day create a new legacy,” said Fountain, a graduate from Patrick Henry High School.

He is amongst a growing number of Black high school graduates in Minnesota and across the country choosing to continue their education at a historically Black college or university.

Some say the influence of notable alumni like Vice President Kamala Harris as one reason behind the rise in enrollment, others point to an interest in social justice and increased Black awareness.

“The George Floyd incident did cause me to, it added motivation to the whole idea of going and getting the degree and bettering myself as a Black man in America,” said Fountain.

Fountain’s parents were behind his decision to attend an HBCU.

Dropping him off at Morehouse College allowed them to see the environment that their son is so proud to say is his college home.

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“I need him seeing us doing everything lawyers, there is more of that there than there is here,” said Fountain, Sr.

“We catch them in their senior year in high school when they are interested in learning about scholarships,” said Laverne McCartney Knighton, an area development director for UNCF Minnesota.

She credits HBCU alumni associations here in the Twin Cities, churches, fraternities, sororities, and their Black college fairs for getting students interested and enrolled.

“We get a lot of students from here going to Howard because there are a lot of Howard alumni,” said Knighton.

UNCF provides opportunities for fellowships and internships and potential employment with fortune 500 companies.

“Bringing that talent back home is what we want to see, “ Knighton said.

“It’s about the experience. You will never get an experience like this. You don’t want to miss out on it,” Fountain said.

The United Negro College Fund is the nation’s largest scholarship provider for Black students in the country.

Students who apply do not have to attend an HBCU to qualify for help.

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Reg Chapman