Howard University Strengthens Academic and Community Efforts in Colombia with HU-COL Avanza

WASHINGTON – For the past five years, Howard University has been increasing its engagement with universities and other entities in Colombia, South America. Today, Howard University officially launches HU/COL Avanza, a comprehensive strategy to collectively engage with the country of Colombia as an institution.

“In 2018, I traveled to Colombia to gain a better understanding of the education and community landscape, and I was impressed by the students and peoples I met with during my visit. Our goal is to continue to develop the partnership with Colombia to provide opportunities for our and their faculty, staff and students to increase their academic and research careers. The HU/COL Avanza initiative will seek to create those opportunities in an interdisciplinary way,” said Howard University President Wayne A.I. Frederick. “We at Howard University will be working with educational institutions, government agencies, private foundations and the corporate sector to help facilitate various opportunities to support the advancement of people of African descent throughout Colombia.”

HU/COL Avanza will provide opportunities for Howard University students and faculty to have compelling international experiences, strengthen their Spanish language skills, and build relationships with other members of the African diaspora. Additionally, there will be initiatives to support entrepreneurship, innovation, education, health care, justice, equity, diversity and inclusion for people of African descent in Colombia through intensive engagement and educational exchange opportunities led by Howard University. These initiatives will emphasize the Pacific region of Colombia, home to the vast majority of Afro-Colombians in the states (departments) of Chocó, Valle de Cauca, Cauca, and Nariño. 

With almost 10 percent of the population identifying as Afro-descendant, according to a 2019 government survey, Colombia has one of the largest Black populations in South America. However, in reality the estimates by social organizations and international organizations such as the World Bank and the Inter-American Bank (IDB) estimate that Afro-Colombians represent up to 25 percent of the total population of Colombia, equivalent to 10-12 million people.  

“We look forward to continuing to strengthen our partnership with higher educational institutions in Colombia. Howard University students and faculty continue to express significant interest in Colombia, and would certainly take advantage of this expanded collaboration,” said Provost and Chief Academic Officer Anthony Wutoh, Ph.D., R.Ph.

Since 2017, students and faculty from the School of Business and the School of Education have studied, conducted feasibility studies and traveled to Colombia to gain practical experience in and learn about international business, entrepreneurship and the education system. 

In March of 2018, after President Frederick’s travel to Colombia for a better understanding of the education landscape, memoranda of understandings (MOUs) were developed between the Howard University schools of business, law and education with our Colombian counterparts at the Universidad Santiago de Cali, where we currently have a visiting faculty member in the School of Economics. In 2019, Howard University faculty and staff collaborated with CET Academic Programs to design and launch a semester-long study abroad program focused on race, ethnicity, and identity in Colombia. 

The U.S. Department of Education and the Colombian Ministry of Education also signed an MOU in 2019 to commit to strengthening relationships between HBCUs and Colombian institutions. 

“In the coming weeks we will announce other initiatives with partners in Colombia as part of HU/COL Avanza that will strengthen entrepreneurship, microenterprise support and development, global competency skills, increase equity, and access to education and support global learning in Colombia and at Howard University,” said Tonija Hope, director of the Ralph J. Bunche International Affairs Center.  “Additionally, we will pursue future opportunities in the areas of community health care, environmental sustainability and innovation.”

For more information on Howard University international programs and initiatives, contact Tonija Hope, director, Ralph J. Bunche International Affairs Center, at 


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(Photo: Dr. Wanye A. I. Frederick, president of Howard University and Edgar Varela Barrios, president of Universidad Del Valle in Colombia in 2018)

About the Ralph J. Bunche International Affairs Center

Established in 1993, the Ralph J. Bunche International Affairs Center serves as Howard’s point of contact for a range of inquiries from entities outside the university: foreign embassies, governments, universities and corporations, as well as U.S. government agencies. We also integrate global perspectives into the HU experience, promote education abroad, facilitate deeper scholarship on global issues, support cross-cultural dialogue and respect for cultural diversity, and prepare leaders who can find solutions to global problems. We offer a variety of opportunities for students and faculty. To learn more, visit


About Howard University

Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university that comprises 13 schools and colleges. Students pursue more than 140 programs of study leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University operates with a commitment to Excellence in Truth and Service and has produced one Schwarzman Scholar, three Marshall Scholars, four Rhodes Scholars, 11 Truman Scholars, 25 Pickering Fellows and more than 165 Fulbright recipients. Howard also produces more on-campus African-American Ph.D. recipients than any other university in the United States. For more information on Howard University, visit

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