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College Raises $8.2 Million Thanks To Social Media Campaign

It often takes a village to accomplish goals. You need the help of others to create positive action. That’s exactly what happened with Bennett College, a historically all-female black college in Greensboro, North Carolina. The college was facing the prospect of losing its accreditation, so people took to social media to save the historic school.

Long History Of Debt

Bennett College has faced financial crises for over 12 years. The historic liberal arts school had recently failed to show financial stability, which prompted the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) to vote the college out of commission.

The news startled administration and staff, prompting them to think of new ways to save the beloved school that provided the education for many notable alumnae, including Dorothy Lavinia Brown, Beverly Buchanan, and others. Bennett College’s Vice President for Institutional Development LaDaniel Gatling commented, “When you are about to lose what you have, it makes leadership and stakeholders think differently.”

A Million-Dollar Campaign

Bennett College started a social media campaign, #StandWithBennett, to hopefully catch the attention of alumnae who would donate to the school. The administration didn’t expect celebrities would also chime in and offer their support. This includes Jussie Smollett, who portrays Jamal Lyon on Empire. Many of his fans donated to the school’s campaign.

Several historically-black colleges and universities (HBCU), including Spelman College and Morehouse College, rallied behind Bennett College to save the school. HBCUs have a long history of being underfunded, and everyone agrees that it’s time to bring change.

“The universe of these schools came together to say, ‘We can’t lose another HBCU,” Gatling added. Bennett College’s campaign included highlighting the college’s history in fighting against segregation during the Civil Rights Movement, hoping to communicate with donors that the school is still relevant today.

Pitching In

The social media campaign helped raise $8.2 million. Alumnae and support groups united in the fight to save Bennett College. Administration commented that it was “beautiful” to see people rally around the institution, but the fight isn’t over yet.

Belle Wheelan, president of SACS, said Bennett College still needs to prove its financial security to an appeals committee. The college isn’t out of the woods yet, but with the help of others, it’s one step closer to proving no one can shut its doors.

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