HBCU Bennett College Has Less Than One Month To Raise $5 Million Or Close
The clock is ticking for Historic Black College Bennett College. The school needs $5 million by February 1 in order to get its accreditation and remain open.
“The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges voted in December to end Bennett’s accreditation, citing major budget deficits over the years. (The school had already been on probation for two years). Now the institution is tasked with coming up with $5 million dollars before a Feb. 1 deadline. If they don’t meet the fiscal goal, Bennett will close,” NBC News reported.
The private, four-year HBCU for women in Greensboro, North Carolina, is on the verge of collapse. Like many HBCUs, the college, which was founded in 1873, has been having financial troubles over the last few years.
“The only thing we can do between now and Feb. 1 is to impact our financial resources and we need about $5 million — at least $5 million — to stabilize the institution,” Bennett College President Dr. Phyllis Dawkins told Fox 8 News. “Between Dec. 11 to the present, we’ve raised almost a half million dollars in that short period of time.”
The school has been rallying its forces to raise awareness of the school’s situation — and to raise money. According to Dawkins, the college has already received help from such organizations as The National Council of Negro Women, Inc., Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., The United Negro College Fund, The United Methodist Church and The Women’s Coalition.
The Bennett Belles, as the students are fondly called, are battling too. Students came up with the #StandWithBennett campaign and movement.
“Bennett has been an anchor in Greensboro, North Carolina and has graduated many, many outstanding African American women in this country and abroad,” said former City Councilwoman Marian B. Tasco, who attended Bennett from 1956 to 57.
The school’s alumni have come up with various ways to save the school. One group of former students have formed their own committee called “Change and Progress for Bennett.”
“We formed to ensure the fiscal stability of Bennett College,” business owner Shawn Hall, ‘93, founder of All Roads Education. “We plan on tracking down and pursuing every avenue to keep Bennett open by putting our heads together and reflecting on what we do well.”
Hall said her group is looking beyond the $5 million needed. She thinks the school needs to raise closer to $10 million or $15 million to get it out of the woods completely and not face this dire situation once again.
Celebrities have also been chipping in with money and support on social media. Empire’s Jussie Smollett recently posted on Twitter: “In the 1930s we had 121 #HBCUs now we’re at 101. Don’t let us be down to 100 if #BennettCollege, who has made the education of black women a priority since 1926, closes its doors. The legacy must continue. Click/share @bennettcollege & Donate today #standwithbennett love & respect”
This is not the first time the school has had financial trouble.
“The college was on probation from 2001 to 2003 after a 30 percent decline in enrollment and a budget deficit of $3.8 million, reported the Greensborough News and Record. Its probation was lifted, however, after then-president Johnetta Cole raised $15 million in 18 months,” NBC reported.