Eleise Richards, a Howard University alum and the founder of the nonprofit Experience the Legacy, wants to help students gain more knowledge about the opportunities offered at HBCUs. It prompted her to embark on a tour of HBCU campuses across the country. 

The New Jersey native started her mission in 2020.  

“We just started with all the East Coast schools down from New Jersey to North Carolina, and that’s how this trip began,” she told Good Morning America. “In total, it ended up being 93 schools, every four-year degree-granting HBCU in North America.”

Richards completed her goal of visiting all the four-year HBCUs last fall. Her tour also included stops at community colleges and institutions such as Alabama State University, Prairie View A&M University and Elizabeth City State University.

“It’s very diverse. It’s not made up of just Black and brown students,” she said of the community at the schools she’s visited. “There are students from all walks of life, all types of different countries. There’s just a lot of misconceptions out there.”

Richards started a college fair in 2016 before starting her nonprofit. A first-generation college student and the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, she wasn’t familiar with the American college system and its inclusion of HBCUs.

“I didn’t know about HBCUs,” she said. “I didn’t grow up in a school system that taught us or encouraged us to attend HBCUs. I only knew about Howard because my best friend told me she wanted to go.”

After having a positive experience at Howard, she wanted to help prospective students have access to the opportunities available to them.

“I wanted to make sure students from neighborhoods and communities that look like mine, have the real information, have the resources, have the access to recruiters, to alumni, to learn more about these schools and truly assess whether it’s a good fit for them and consider them when they’re thinking about their future college journey,” Richards said.

She decided to embark on the tour to extend her knowledge of HBCUs.

“I realized it feels a little disingenuous to me, to host and encourage kids to attend these schools when I don’t really know much about a lot of them myself,” she said. “I knew a good amount but I didn’t know many of them still and I know that’s pretty common.”