BlavityU is a vertical launched by Blavity to give Gen Z a platform to vent, engage, and share their input about what is happening in the world around them. Read our Q&A on why it is vital to hold this space for students, community and storytellers.
Blavity launched the BlavityU vertical a few months ago in October. What inspired your team to create this community-driven platform?
When Blavity was founded during the Ferguson protests in 2014, we wanted to create a platform for Black millennials to vent, engage, and share their input about what was happening in the world around them. We created BlavityU in hopes of doing the same for Gen Z. Gen Z has so much to say. They’re at the forefront of politics, social issues, and much more. They just need an outlet. I’ve been loving the response to BlavityU and our BlavityU Ambassador Program. They haven’t let me down yet!
What space is BlavityU filling that was missing online for Black students and Gen Zers?
Black Gen Zers and college students have always been able to share their views on social media, but often those views can get lost in the midst of everyone else’s opinions. You’ll rarely find a dedicated space for Black students to write articles about mental health, college game day, relationships, finances, etc. — especially not on a platform as large as Blavity’s. That’s why it was important for us to carve out a piece of Blavity.com’s real estate and devote it solely to BlavityU.
In addition to providing a platform for students to pitch and share stories, BlavityU offers mentorship for upcoming writers, editors and photographers. Can you touch on how your team is helping shape the next generation of Black storytellers?
As writers/journalists, I think we all remember how hard it was for us to get our first byline — especially on a large publication. We want to provide new and aspiring journalists the opportunity to not only be featured on a large platform, but be paid for their work. We even have a few December graduates that have shown interest in writing for a few of our other brands.
What tools or training are you equipping BlavityU contributors with to tell the stories that are more important to them and their communities?
BlavityU has a student ambassador coordinator that works directly with each student on crafting and fleshing out their pitches, and learning how to identify the BlavityU audience in order to properly angle their stories. We even send students out on assignment to capture content. We try to run the program as close to our newsroom as possible so that they can get a feel of what it’s like to work at Blavity on a day-to-day basis.
From Travel Noire and 21Ninety to AfroTech and Shadow & Act, Blavity’s brands tell authentic stories for Black audiences while providing useful resources. What important factors do brands looking to speak to Black audiences holistically keep in mind?
It’s all about authenticity. We have a really engaged readership so we pay attention to the type of content they want to see from us. We understand that Black people are not a monolith and there are stories about Black people that aren’t always visible in mainstream media. We want to be able to highlight those people and those stories and share them with our readers. We love to educate, entertain, and inform as much as possible.
Although the vertical is new, how do you see the focus of BlavityU expanding and growing in the future?
I’d absolutely love for BlavityU to be a vertical that expands into its own site someday. I’d also like to eventually hire some of our alumni ambassadors to contribute to the site regularly. The ultimate goal is to have BlavityU be a fully “For Gen Z, By Gen Z” platform.