When I enter a partnership, I don’t take it lightly. Whether it’s love, a spades game or a business deal, some of the basic rules apply. We have to share at least some of the same passions, have trust and, of course, be committed to working together in good times and bad.
As bleak as the economy is, we at Reach Media, don’t take money from just any advertiser. Oh, no! We pair up with companies that share a common vision or goal that always includes empowering and giving back. That’s why Allstate’s Good Hands community is a perfect fit.
Everyone who knows me knows how I feel about my beloved historically black colleges and universities, as well as the role The Tom Joyner Foundation has played in helping to keep them viable through thick and thin. If you aren’t familiar with The Tom Joyner Foundation, let me give you a little background.
Do you know how some families pass down the tradition of quilting, chopping down their own Christmas tree or – I don’t know, maybe big family dinners on Sunday? Well, our family’s tradition is education, particularly at HBCUs. My grandparents, parents, my brother and me, my sons and my two nieces are all graduates of HBCUs that include Tuskegee, Florida A&M and Howard, just to name a few. Our tradition has worked out well, and I look forward to my granddaughter’s graduation from the HBCU of her choice – in 2023!
Another thing passed down by my ancestors was the responsibility of giving back.
Back in the ’90s, when I realized that many HBCUs who get fierce competition from mainstream colleges and universities were struggling as attendance decreased, I set out to try to find a way to help. My son, Thomas Jr., now heads The Tom Joyner Foundation with the goal of not just providing scholarship money for students who could no longer afford to remain enrolled, but also to give these schools the publicity they need. Schools like Johnson C. Smith, Florida Memorial and Benedict rarely were able to get the national exposure they get on The Tom Joyner Morning Show when we highlight the HBCU “School of the Month” or reward the Herc Scholarship (named after my father, Hercules) to a male HBCU student.
Growing up in the small town of Tuskegee, Alabama, I saw my mom – a secretary – spend many evenings typing and correcting papers for students at Tuskegee Institute – without spell check! Buddy, as I called her, used a typewriter and carbon paper. It was her way of making sure students improved their chances of success in college. It’s that kind of nurturing from everyone from the faculty to community that makes HBCUs unique.
That’s what The Tom Joyner Foundation does too, just on a larger scale.
To date, we’ve awarded more than $65 million in scholarship money, with the bulk of it raised by our annual Fantastic Voyage cruise. What makes us different than a lot of foundations is that we don’t take money off the top for administrative costs. Every dime of your donation is used for the purpose of helping students. I’m very proud of that. So, you can imagine how excited I am about Allstate’s commitment to HBCUs through its Quotes for Education program. Not only does it help the schools, but it helps you, too.
See, we get it. Times are tough, and no matter where you look, at churches and charitable and disaster relief organizations, giving is down, yet the needs continue to rise. So, Quotes for Education is a win-win situation. If you’re shopping for insurance, you can go to http://www.allstate.com/quotesforeducation to get a quote, and each time you do, Allstate will donate $10 to the Tom Joyner Foundation! Allstate is helping you help us help HBCUs. Now, that’s teamwork!
The questions I’m most asked about my passion for helping HBCUs are one, why don’t you include mainstream colleges and universities in the mix, and two, how can I help when I’m just trying to make ends meet myself?
The answer to the first question is this: If I could, I would help everybody. But since I can’t, I’ve decided to focus on an area where the needs are great and one that I have a deep-rooted connection with. As for the second question, we all can find a way to give back in our own way. Thankfully, programs like Allstate’s Quotes for Education are a great opportunity for you, your family and friends to make a contribution to HBCUs without costing you anything, except a few moments of your time.
I want to thank Allstate – and thank you too. When you get that quote, we all become partners in giving back! Doesn’t it feel good?