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HBCU Impact Day

Source: Powell Photography, Inc./C/O Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

On September 16, 2019, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. raised $1 million in an effort to benefit historically Black colleges and universities, as part of a four-year initiative called HBCU Impact Day, which seeks to raise $10 million for these important and noteworthy institutions.

The initiative was led by the organization’s president, Dr. Glenda Glover, who also serves as president of Tennessee State University, a historically Black college. Dr. Glover is also a HBCU graduate herself, and tasked her sorority sisters to lead the charge in fundraising.

The day-long challenge was met after local and global chapters hosted numerous fundraising events throughout the day. Several private donors and corporate organizations also financially contributed to the initiative. Last year the organization exceeded its goal and gifted $1.6 million to 32 of the 96 HBCUs selected through the AKA-HBCU Endowment Fund. After last week’s efforts, a second cycle of 32 HBCUs will be funded through 2020.

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. was founded on January 15, 1908, on the campus of Howard University in Washington, D.C. and remains one of the most prestigious nationally and globally recognized organizations. It is also the first Greek-letter organization founded by Black women. The fundraising efforts fall within the organization’s three-fold tenants of sisterhood, scholarship and service, and also speaks to the sorority’s commitment to provide “service to all mankind.”

MadameNoire spoke with Dr. Glover to discuss her thoughts regarding the importance of helping young HBCU attendees obtain their educational dreams and why it’s necessary to continue to support HBCUs through advocacy and financial contributions.

MadameNoire: This is the second year that Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc. is launching this initiative. Can you talk about the momentum leading up to this pivotal moment in your fundraising efforts for HBCUs across the country?

Dr. Glenda Glover: We began 2019 strong – dispersing $1.6 million to 32 HBCUs during Black History Month. This included a full endowment of $100K to Bennett College, who needed the funds to stay accredited at the time. The momentum has continued as Alpha Kappa Alpha members and supporters remain diligent in our goal to endow $10M to HBCUs 2018-2022.

Also wanted to ask if you could clarify if the monies raised go to students who are already enrolled or as scholarship monies or both?

GG: Funds raised and provided to HBCUs through the AKA HBCU Endowment Fund can help schools reduce student debt through scholarships, fund industry-specific research, recruit and retain top faculty, and much more.

MN: Can you talk about the joy of meeting your goal last year and if you feel any pressure to exceed expectations this year?

GG: Last year, we surpassed our goal of raising $1 million in one day due to the support of sorority members across the world, HBCU alumni, parents and education advocates. We know that our historically Black institutions are a hallmark in a global community of professionals that contribute to moving our society forward. I’m happy to announce that for the second consecutive year, we met our goal of raising $1 million for HBCU Impact Day!

MN: A lot of people were excited when Robert Smith announced that he would assist Morehouse grads with their student debt during his Morehouse commencement speech in May. As a former HBCU grad who is also the president of a HBCU, can you talk about how important it is for students to have this leg up, especially as they embark on their careers and responsibilities as working adults?

GG: We know that the student debt crisis has hit Black borrowers especially hard. Julia Barnard, a student debt expert at the Center for Responsible Lending, recently pointed out that “there’s structural discrimination…and that it’s a larger civil rights issue.” This is one of the things that drives Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority’s pledge to help sustain our HBCUs and students. Through scholarships, students are able to reduce both financial and mental burdens.

MN: Do you feel that there’s a perception that HBCU’s don’t offer enough scholarships/financial aid than other universities? If so, do you feel that the initiative will help to counter those harsh views?

GG: Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority has been a leader – along with the other Black Greek lettered organizations – in helping support our nation’s HBCUs for many years. Our efforts support a focus on education under what we call “HBCU For Life: A Call to Action.” We hope that this can continue to be an example for all to help sustain HBCUs financially and otherwise.

MN: Have you personally talked to or met with any of the students last year who benefited from your organization’s fundraising efforts?

GG: We know that many HBCU students benefit from our fundraising efforts. I’m fortunate to be in a position that allows me to connect with my very own students at my alma mater, Tennessee State University – and other HBCUs – to gain perspective on what’s important to them as they matriculate through our treasured institutions into the real world.

MN: Do you plan at any point in partnering with other historically black Greek organizations next year?

GG: Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority is proud to serve under the National Pan-Hellenic Council with eight other historically Black, international Greek lettered fraternities and sororities. Collectively, we partner on various projects throughout the year on national and local levels that help support our nation’s HBCUs.

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