Updated 2.4.19 11:00 p.m.
Bennett College will remain open after raising $8.2 million in an effort to keep the historic women’s college, open since 1873, reports NBCnews.com:
Alumnae, like Shawn Hall ’93, joined a committee called Change and Progress for Bennett, which she described as a “brain trust” in an earlier interview with NBC News.
“We formed to ensure the fiscal stability of Bennett College,” said Hall, who runs a small business called All Roads Education, which helps prospective students attend college debt free. “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.”
Other supporters, including celebrities like the actor Jussie Smollett, posted on social media using #StandWithBennett in order to persuade others to donate to their cause.
“In the 1930s we had 121 #HBCUs now we’re at 101,” Smollett wrote on Instagram. “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.”
Bennett College is on the verge of collapse if the HBCU doesn’t raise $5 million by February 1 in order to receive 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.
As noted by MadameNoire, the private, four-year institution for women in Greensboro, North Carolina was founded in 1873, and like many HBCU’s, its been having financial issues for several 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.”
According to Dawkins, Bennett College has received help from organizations such 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.
“Bennett has been an anchor in Greensboro, North Carolina and has graduated many, many outstanding African American women in this country and abroad,” said Bennett alum and former City Councilwoman Marian B. Tasco.
Celebrities have also been vocal in their support on social media. “Empire” star Jussie Smollett recently Tweeted: “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 faced 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. The probation was lifted after then-president Johnetta Cole raised $15 million in 18 months, according to NBC.
Meanwhile, Bennett College posted this update on Twitter Jan. 29: “We are now 38% away from reaching our goal! THANK YOU SO MUCH! We truly appreciate those who #StandWithBennett and donated! There is still enough time to give what you can! Please share with friends and family! Thank you all again!”
Click here if you’d like to make a donation.
PHOTO: Public Domain
We are now 38% away from reaching our goal! THANK YOU SO MUCH! We truly appreciate those who #StandWithBennett and donated! There is still enough time to give what you can! Please share with friends and family! Thank you all again! 💙🔔💙#BennettCollege #BennettBelles #Support pic.twitter.com/DyEShHr31c
— Bennett College (@BennettCollege) January 29, 2019