About the HBCU Program

HRC Foundation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Program mobilizes and supports HBCUs in enhancing policies and services that promote excellence in LGBTQ inclusion, equity, and engagement. We focus on promoting individual competencies and collective action, empowering leaders and stakeholders, and building a network of committed leaders in pursuit of eliminating stigma and enriching the college experience for LGBTQ students and the entire student body.


HRCF’s HBCU Program arose out of a need to support LGBTQ students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) after two violent, anti-LGBTQ incidents occurred at two prominent HBCUs in 2004. Shortly after the incidents, HRCF convened a dynamic group of HBCU LGBTQ student-leaders committed to advocating for LGBTQ-inclusion and social justice on campuses and in their communities.

Formerly known as the HBCU Project, HRCF’s HBCU Program has expanded to engage administrators, faculty/staff, students and alumni through various initiatives. Since the program’s inception, HRC has established relationships with over 30 HBCUs by providing support to LGBTQ and allied students, faculty, and staff who wish to improve LGBTQ inclusion on their campuses.

What We Do

The National HBCU Leadership Summit is the only leadership development and advocacy training program that empowers LGBTQ HBCU students to act as change-agents on their campuses and in their communities. Throughout the five-day summit, students focus on self-awareness, awareness of others, courageous actions, and collaboration by engaging in workshops, team building activities, group projects, and service projects. Students leave with the skills and competence to lead resourcefully and effectively through the intersections of race, religion, gender identity and expression, class, and sexual orientation. Click here for additional information and way to get involved.

The HRCF HBCU Program empowers LGBTQ+ HBCU students to be change-agents on their campuses and in their communities.

Regional HBCU Leadership Summits

The newly launched Regional HBCU Leadership Summits are open to all (LGBTQ and ally) student leaders on campus, and assures that participating students build the skills and competencies to lead effectively through the intersections of race, religion, gender identity and expression, class and sexual orientation on campus and beyond. The summit also includes a daylong capacity building and LGBTQ sensitivity training for staff, faculty and administrators aimed at providing tools and resources to better support LGBTQ students on campus. Institutions can click here to apply to host a summit.

P.R.I.D.E. Alumni Network

The HBCU LGBTQ Alumni Network was created to foster and strengthen the bond between Historically Black Colleges and Universities alumni who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and allies with their respective alma maters and the Human Rights Campaign. This network will cultivate interest in and support for the HRCF’s HBCU Program and LGBTQ inclusion amongst HBCUs. This is also a space for alumni to connect, activate, and collaborate on issues that are common and relevant to us.

Campus Diversity & Inclusion Training

The HBCU Diversity and Inclusion Trainings offer an overview of LGBTQ inclusive practices and policies to further promote equality on college campuses and communities for students, faculty/staff, and administration. The training helps to cultivate a workforce for administration to engage with their students, reinforcing the importance of moral, social and political responsibility for many campuses, establishing diversity and inclusion for all.

Past Training Includes:

  • LGBTQ 101
  • Best Practice for Serving Transgender Students
  • Supporting LGBTQ Students' Health

#HBCUOutLoud Day

HRC Foundation’s Historically Black College and Universities (HBCU) Program has coined a national day (#HBCUOutLoudDay) to raise awareness about the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer HBCU community. HBCU OutLoud Day is an opportunity for HBCUs to host pride events, amplify diversity milestones, and strategize on LGBTQ equity and inclusion work on campus.


College-age Black Americans are disproportionately affected by HIV. The HBCU Program partners with HBCUs to provide administrators and students with information, strategies, and best practices aimed at significantly reducing student risk on campus. HRC released a new comprehensive guide for Historically Black College and University (HBCU) administrators, staff and students outlining many of the critical steps higher educational institutions can take to help achieve an HIV-free generation.


Making HIV History: A Pragmatic Guide to Confronting HIV at HBCUs

Download PDF

Who We Are

Leslie Hall, MSW | He/Him
Director, HBCU Program

Leslie Hall is the Director of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Program and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. In his role, Leslie provides leadership and expertise in higher education particularly focused on minority-serving institutions' efforts to achieve full equality and inclusion for LGBTQ students. One of his primary roles within the HBCU Program is to work with HBCU leaders on the implementation of fully LGBTQ-inclusive policies and practices. Additionally, Leslie oversees the annual HRCF HBCU Leadership Summit: Leading In Truth, where LGBTQ HBCU students engage in a week-long leadership development, ideitntiy and social development experience. A frequent speaker and panelist, Leslie has been highlighted in Black Enterprise, Blavity, Washington Post, Reuters, among others. Leslie holds a B.S. in sociology from Bowie State, a Masters of Social Work degree from Howard University and is currently pursuing a PhD in Higher Education Leadership and Policy at Howard University. His research agenda is focused on the pathways to the presidency for LGBTQ HBCU administrators, leadership development for LGBTQ student leaders, and fundraising amongst LGBTQ populations of color. Leslie devotes his professional work and scholarship toward the liberation of Black and Brown LGBTQ people.

Rishard M. Butts | He/Him
Manager, HBCU Program

A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Rishard relocated to Washington, D.C. in August 2012 to attend Howard University. There he received a Bachelor’s of Science in human development and psycho-educational studies from the School of Education. After completing his undergraduate studies, he accepted a full-time position at Howard University as the director of the Freshman Leadership Academy and executive assistant to the associate vice president for student affairs. He joined the HRC team in May 2018 as the coordinator of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Program. He has been instrumental in the expansion of the HBCU Program's leadership development portfolio including: diversifying the student participants, having more colleges/universities represented, and including high-profile speakers and special guests at the national Leading In Truth summit. Rishard has worked to increase visibility of the program by incorporating new marketing/branding concepts and strategies. He is currently spearheading the addition of three regional summits that will be hosted at HBCUs across the country leading up to the annual National Summit in Washington, DC. Rishard is passionate about leadership development and encouraging young people to be bold, follow their dreams, and live authentic lives.

Janelle Edge | She/Her
Intern, HBCU Program

Janelle Edge is a fourth-year political science student at Florida A&M University (FAMU), in Tallahassee, Florida. Some of her campus leadership engagements includes serving as a 2019 Orientation Leader and currently as the Deputy Secretary for the Department of Diversity & Inclusion, among many other campus clubs/organizations. As she matriculated through FAMU, she has gained the erudition to inform students of LGBTQ+ history, equality and inclusion. She intends to become a civil attorney and continue to fight and educate those on injustices shared amongst many. During this internship experience, Janelle wishes to spearhead innovative virtual ideas and assist in other substantial activities to broaden her community through the lens of others. One of her favorite quotes to live by is, “Dream Big, Work Hard, No Excuses”. Janelle chooses to dream big now; no matter the obstacles faced, it is another lesson learned that pushes her to be the voice for those not heard. She chooses to inspire!

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