Tom Joyner

*Tom Joyner, one of the country’s most-visible philanthropic supporters of historically black colleges and universities, has founded a company to help those institutions develop distance-education programs-with a particular focus on allowing them to compete against for-profit colleges in enrolling minority students.

Mr. Joyner regularly highlights black colleges on his nationally syndicated radio broadcast, The Tom Joyner Morning Show, and has donated tens of millions of dollars to students of HBCU’s through his Tom Joyner Foundation.

For-profit and online colleges attract “incredible numbers of African-American students” said Mr. Joyner’s son, Thomas Jr., who stepped down as president of the foundation to become president of the new company, HBCUsOnline. “A lot of those enrollments are his listeners,” the younger Mr. Joyner said in an interview on Thursday, and he believes many of those potential students would be better served by HBCU’s, which have “a stronger legacy and history.”

On its Web site, the company promises to provide an online version of the supportive environment that HBCU’s try to foster on their campuses, and it makes some oblique and not-so-oblique references to criticisms that have been raised recently about the costs and recruiting tactics of for-profit colleges. “This program goes beyond simply enrolling you in classes and saddling you with debt, but offers you ongoing support systems from registration to graduation,” the site proclaims.

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