ASHEVILLE, NC, November 15, 2019 – In 2014, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation selected six historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) — namely Claflin University, Delaware State University, Fayetteville State University, Jackson State University, Johnson C. Smith University and Morehouse College — to participate in the Frontier Set. This initiative was developed to understand how institutions of higher education transform by leveraging innovative practices to assist first-generation and low-income students and students of color persist to graduation. Five years into the initiative, we have learned a great deal about the transformational methods the HBCUs have employed to provide all students with access to a high-quality and personalized education. Through the Storytelling Project, the HBCU Intermediary, in partnership with the Parish Group, will share the institutions’ stories of transformation with the broader postsecondary community to help it understand how each institution closed equity gaps and increased graduation rates, and to provide insight into the strategies that can be employed to achieve the same level of success.

“In the five years since the creation of the Frontier Set, the HBCU cohort has made tremendous strides in increasing student success through innovative practices designed to assist students with life challenges persist to graduation. What they haven’t been so successful with is communicating these successes to their stakeholders — students, faculty, staff, donors, policymakers, etc. My goal for the HBCU Storytelling Project is to not only highlight the qualitative attributes of the cohort’s success through data and key performance indicators (KPIs), but also to gift each institution with the assets, or tools, to tell their own unique “story” of institutional transformation to a heightened level of student success. We are delighted to partner with the Parish Group on this critical project. I was drawn to the Parish Group for its stellar reputation and 32 years of experience working within the higher education industry. The Parish Group’s understanding of the complexities of this specific project concerning the public relations, enrollment and retention issues with which most schools struggle will be invaluable to the project. Their vast experience in branding, messaging and social media integration will use the data and statistics to propel the stories as supporting evidence for the storylines. The Parish Group will lead the way in helping the institutions communicate with their stakeholders, whether it be via report, animated infographic videos and PDFs, or short videos.”


The Parish Group works exclusively with higher education clients nationally and internationally. With offices in Florida and North Carolina, the firm has been headquartered in downtown Asheville for the last 10 years. According to Eric Bryan, partner and vice president of enrollment strategies, “Our partnership with the Frontier Set is a culmination of years of dedication to helping colleges find, recruit, enroll and graduate faithful alumni. Our work with the historically black colleges and universities, HBCU, cohort will be focused on enabling these schools to further their mission through the success of their students. Designing the tools to allow stakeholders the ability to articulate this message to the wider audience is our goal for this project. This aligns perfectly with the work we have been doing since our founding. We are honored to be partnering with Dr. Thompson, the Frontier Set HBCU cohort and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.”

ERIC BRYAN, MBA, Partner and Vice President of Enrollment Strategies