“Extra’s” AJ Calloway started out at BET as the co-host of “106 and Park” then landed a gig as a correspondent on the entertainment show “Extra.” But before he achieved those successes in show business, he set a foundation for himself at Howard University. The 39-year-old TV personality wanted to pay tribute to the school that helped him achieve so he decided to create a foundation to assist his alma mater and its current students. Calloway created the Build a Bridge Foundation that encourages alumni to give back to their school.
During Howard homecoming weekend, AJ will host a fundraiser and a scholarship brunch to do his part in encouraging other alumni to give back to the university that gave so much to them. Despite it’s popular designation by alumni as “the Mecca” Howard, along with other HBCU’s struggles to grow its endowment.
“I started a foundation called Building the Bridge,” Calloway told the Tom Joyner Morning Show. “What I want to do is encourage alumni from HBCU’s to give back to the schools. We always come back for the homecoming, we’re always there for the parties but we’re not always there for the university or the students that are there. So I’m just trying to encourage people to come back and give back.”
Howard has had its share of problems this year. Despite alumni that include Lance Gross, Wendy Raquel Robinson, Laz Alonso, Debbie Allen and Taraji P. Henson, the school dropped 46 spots in four years on the annual “Best Colleges” rankings compiled by U.S. News and World Report. A letter detailing financial problems at the school leaked earlier this year and the school’s president, Sidney Ribeau, retired this month after 5 years. This summer, a popular student was murdered a block from campus.
On Saturday, October 26, at 11 p.m., Calloway and fellow Howard alum Marlon Wayans will host a fundraising event with BizMarkie and DJ D Nice doing the musical honors. On Sunday, October 27, scholarships for current Howard students will be awarded at a gospel brunch.
“We’re doing a fundraiser the day before and giving back the day after,” Calloway says.
“The alumni want to complain, they want to argue about the financial disarray at Howard but what is anybody doing? When is the last time you gave back to Howard? When is the last time you gave back to your alma mater? We don’t support them the way that we should. We don’t support them the way other people support their universities. We need to wake up and we need to give back to the universities that made us what we are today.”
For information on the events and how to apply for a scholarship, click here.