Programs offered through the Center for Black Studies

The Center for Black Studies offers programs for Black students including mentorships and honor societies.


Zulfiqar Ahmed

A classroom in the Center for Black Studies, which offers different programs for Black students to encourage success and help them make connections.

By Elisa Reamer

DeKALB – The Center for Black Studies offers many resources for NIU students including four different programs for Black students. 

Black Student Achievement Program

The Black Student Achievement Program (BSAP) is a mentorship program that was originally called the S plan created in the early 2000s. Under that name, undergraduates would be connected with undergraduates but now BSAP allows a pipeline effect, said Christopher Mitchell, Assistant Director of Programming at the Center for Black Studies. 

“We have created a pipeline where we connect the student participants of BSAP with mentors who are alum of the university who have graduated with the same major or similar major in their field, in the field working, so it’s kind of like a pipeline where the mentors provide the information in the help and assistance needed to cause the students to succeed,” Mitchell said. 

BSAP meets every Wednesday at 6 p.m. in the Center for Black Studies. 

Black Male Initiative

A program created by Donald Bramlett in 2001 to retain Black males and to increase their graduation numbers is Black Male Initiative (BMI). 

“Don (Bramlett) saw a need for a program that would build and create opportunities, resources and access to Black male students at (the) predominantly white campus of NIU,” Mitchell said. “And so, with that, Don gathered Black male students, and he started off with a small group and the objective was graduation.” 

Mitchell said BMI focuses on five areas. The first three are academics where the students are encouraged to study, create connections around campus and community service. 

“Every Monday, all Black members wear suits to break the stereotypes that Black males only wear suits at court hearings or funerals,” Mitchell said. “So every Monday you’ll see a bash group of Black males wearing suits to break the stereotypes.”

African American Mentor Program

The African American Mentor Program specializes in mentorship and directing students where they need to go to get the help they need. 

“We kind of direct them to different offices and facilities that can provide mentorship within their major and if they’re not an underclassman, we will connect them with specific alum,” Mitchell said. 

John Henrik Clarke Honor Society

The last program is the John Henrik Clarke Honor Society, which honors Black culture and celebrates successful Black students with a 3.0 GPA or higher, Mitchell said. 

“They pretty much gather weekly and they participate in community service, they participate in engagements and support to other organizations such as Black Male Initiative, they tutor members of the Black Student Achievement Program,” Mitchell said. “And so they in times past, they have been the mentors and the tutors for programs within the center.” 

Mitchell said that to join the honor society, students must have a 3.0 GPA or higher, submit an application and attend a meeting to hear further requirements. 

 “The Center for Black Studies is a home away from home for those who may come from urban environments and even suburban environments,” Mitchell said. “And so anybody is welcome. Everybody is welcome. We embrace all students who may want to use our resources.”