When they see us: an HBCU campaign that unites a community

By Daphne Monix Higgins,

Contributing author,

An HBCU is defined by the Department of Education as “any historically black college or university that was established before 1964, whose primary mission was, and is, the education of black Americans, and that is accredited by an agency or a nationally recognized accrediting association determined by the Secretary [of Education] be a reliable authority as to the quality of the training offered or who, according to such agency or association, is reasonably progressing towards accreditation.

Although this official title was created by the Higher Education Act of 1965, HBCUs have existed for more than 180 years, emerging after the Civil War (1961-1965) to provide black Americans with a basic right: education. .

Since its inception, HBCUs have been a resource for generations of African Americans who may not have had the opportunity to further their education, enter their chosen professions and/or pursue their careers. building on a legacy of success in a stimulating environment; while being underfunded both federally and in the states that house them.

The Jackson (MS) Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., understands the importance of properly funding HBCUs while helping them maintain their status as a beacon for the African American community by providing a safe place to learn, grow , empower students, and encourage engaged reciprocal action through donations to one or more institutions whose student body is primarily made up of people of color.

Mississippi’s largest chapter of the national sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, is sponsoring the When They See Us: HBCU campaign, a fundraising venture that is on track to raise its goal of $100,000 by the 31st May 2022. The earmarked money will be presented to the state’s five HBCUs with programs of four years or longer: Alcorn State University, Jackson State University, Mississippi Valley State University, Rust College, and Tougaloo College.

Chapter members know that the funds raised during this project, which is led by the local organization’s social action committee, will make a real difference in the lives of students who attend HBCUs in Mississippi.

When they see us: The HBCU campaign kicked off on January 12, 2022, with a virtual town hall that was viewed simultaneously on Zoom, Facebook and YouTube. Moderated by Shirley Tucker, Mississippi State Coordinator for Social Action and Jackson Chapter Member; spoke with all state HBCU presidents participating in the program.

During this discussion, some of the dialogues shared included the following statements: Alcorn State University President Dr. Felecia M. Nave said, “It is important that when we host a student, we meet him where he is and provide him with the services he needs. COVID has posed a challenge for recruiting, but HBCUs have had enrollment issues for some time. Our student base in Mississippi State is in decline, so we need to think creatively, innovatively, and collaboratively, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.

Jackson State University President Dr. Thomas Hudson said, “Students want results. They want to know how their lives will be changed by attending our institutions. We need to do a better job of marketing to keep education at the forefront by communicating with our youth. We do our best with what is available, but we should never underestimate our credentials from an HBCU. We need to fight the narrative that our schools “are not good enough”. We know we are good and can produce the best.

Mississippi Valley State University President Dr. Jerryl Briggs said, “We at HBCUs know how to turn 0.15 into a dollar because we have to do different things to recruit students – the deferred maintenance issues of our institutions can be a challenge and it has been difficult, but we are all determined to succeed.

Rust College President Dr. Ivy R. Taylor said support from portfolio alumni is important. “We’re seeing a new moment where people who haven’t traditionally given to HBCUs are discovering them now. I would say that the philanthropic community and corporate support has not been the same for HBCUs as it has been for other higher education institutions. She added that financial support is important from everyone.

Tougaloo College President Dr. Carmen J. Walters said, “We all have some of the best and brightest faculty on our campuses who provide knowledge to our students. It is often difficult to recruit and retain these teachers, but because of their commitment to our students, they provide a service that we truly cannot afford without support. Endowments are an important factor and can make the difference to our success.

When They See Us: HBCU Campaign, which will end on May 31, 2022, has held several information sessions to help educate the public about the importance of HBCUs. Some of those things included marketing materials that identify each school and the campaign, highlighting each institution for a month with fun facts, interviews with various news outlets, and a virtual forum with Mississippi HBCU student body presidents. .

At the end of the campaign, the chapter will invite HBCU presidents to meet at a central location for a check presentation for individual institutions.

Gwendolyn Handy, president of the Jackson (MS) Alumnae Chapter, said, “A campaign of this magnitude gives students, especially first-generation students, the opportunity to succeed and complete their education. After a year, or sometimes a semester, students find themselves with a lack of funds to continue their studies. Speaking from personal experience, being from a small rural town, there was inequitable access to resources, a lack of support from the local high school and community. After a year, I found myself faced with the possibility of having to return home, but thanks to special funding provided by the HBCU that I attended, I was able to continue my studies and obtained my diploma. The Jackson (MS) Alumnae Chapter wants to continue the tradition of giving back and helping students who are financially burdened due to some type of disparity. This campaign really reminds me of a Bible verse that I would like to share with the community – Proverbs 11:25: “A generous person will prosper; he who refreshes others will be refreshed.

Donations of any size will help ensure the financial stability of HBCUs in Mississippi to thrive and survive on the basis and purpose of HBCUs. You have the option to select the institution you would like your donation to go to or you can select “General Fund” which will split the total dollar amount among the (5) HBCUs. All donations are tax deductible. Our fiscal agent for this fundraising campaign is The Foundation for the Mid South, Inc. It is an exempt organization as described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code: EIN 72-1151070.

Ways to donate:

• Scan the QR code on all HBCU campaign marketing materials See attached document

• Text HBCU to 53555 to select an HBCU of their choice to support

•Visit our chapter website: www.jacksonmsalumnae.org

• Visit our fundraising website: https://givebutter.com/WhenTheySeeUs_HBCUs

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. is a private, non-profit organization whose purpose is to provide assistance and support through established programs in local communities around the world. The sorority currently has 1,000 collegiate and alumni chapters located in the United States, Canada, Japan (Tokyo and Okinawa), Germany, Virgin Islands, Bermuda, Bahamas, Jamaica, West Africa and Republic of Korea.

About Walter J. Leslie

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