Virginia Tech’s Black College Institute (BCI), a four-day summer academic enrichment program for talented rising high school juniors and seniors, has received a silver Anthem Award in the special projects category.

The Anthem Awards, an initiative of the Webby Awards, were developed to recognize the breadth of purpose-driven projects around the globe by honoring the organizations, brands, and people creating long-lasting impact.

At Virginia Tech, BCI has done just that since its introduction in 2017. Designed to ensure that underrepresented and/or first-generation prospective students are aware of opportunities at Virginia Tech, any student with an interest in the university is welcome. Free of charge to students, the competitive program, which received more than 1,200 applications in 2021, is managed by Enrollment Management and the Office for Inclusion and Diversity.

BCI Anthem Award

BCI Anthem Award

“As the founder, it has been exciting to see BCI evolve and grow from 68 participants in 2017 to 520 in the 2021 BCI virtual program,” said Vice President for Strategic Affairs and Diversity Menah Pratt-Clarke. “We are honored that the Anthem Award’s world-renowned judges recognize the powerful vision for this program. BCI illustrates Virginia Tech’s support for InclusiveVT — the institutional and individual commitment to Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) in the spirit of community, diversity, and excellence.”

BCI provides a platform for students to embrace the Ut Prosim motto by completing service-learning projects with university and local partners. Students engage with various academic disciplines through hands-on learning and workshops about issues such as navigating and completing the college process and applying for scholarships and financial aid.

The students experience campus life by eating in the dining halls and staying in the residence halls while exploring Virginia Tech’s departments and organizations, building lasting connections, and engaging in fun team-building activities.

“The only thing that makes me happier than to see the students’ excitement during BCI is to watch those same students grow and reach milestones as students at Virginia Tech,” said Assistant Provost for Diversity and Inclusion Crasha Townsend. “The program is only five years old, and I’m confident I soon will be reading about some of the superstar BCI alumni as they begin making huge impacts in our society. They truly are the leaders of tomorrow.”

One of those superstars is Taylor Whitehurst, a junior at Virginia Tech who attended BCI as a high school junior. “From the moment I stepped on the campus of Virginia Tech, I fell in love, and I felt welcomed. I even had the opportunity to meet with influential campus figures, such as Dr. Menah Pratt-Clarke and Dr. Crasha Townsend, while exploring majors and possible careers I had never even considered,” Whitehurst said.

BCI Anthem Award

BCI Anthem Award

“Eager to hit the ground running, I returned to campus in August 2019 as a college freshman and almost immediately began making my mark on campus,” said Whitehurst, who has served as a BCI student staff leader and an intern in SOAR, the Student Opportunity and Achievement Resources office.

Since its inception, BCI has contributed to an increase in the number of Black students who matriculate at the university, from 4.5 percent of the entering freshman class in 2017 to 8.8 percent in 2021.

This year, there will be two in-person BCI sessions for high school seniors, June 19-23 and June 26-30, and a virtual BCI for high school juniors, June 12-15. Get more information on BCI.

In its inaugural year, the Anthem Awards is considered the largest social impact award in the world, receiving nearly 2,500 entries from 36 countries worldwide.

“We launched this platform to show the world that all corners of our culture, from sports and entertainment to business leaders and celebrities, are all standing up to say it is time for systemic change and that social good is what we value as a society,” said Anthem Awards Managing Director Jessica Lauretti.

Award winners were announced on Feb. 15 and will be celebrated at a virtual conference and virtual awards show on Feb. 28. Fans can watch the virtual show at

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