Monday, May 8, 2017

Just Give

I just announced the Just Give campaign on the FB page, my new effort to support our HBCUs. I want to address the matter a little more in depth here and hope that you will join this new endeavor.

I am an unapologetic supporter of my alma mater. I am also an unapologetic supporter of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. My goal is quite simply to encourage HBCU alumni to put our money where our mouths are.

My maternal grandfather graduated from Howard University, as did my paternal grandmother, my uncle, my sister-in-law, and both of my parents. My Dad taught at the University of the District of Columbia for more than 30 years. I have an aunt that graduated from UDC as did my brother (who also attended Hampton) and a cousin. Another aunt graduated from Minor Teacher's College, one of the institutions that merged to become part of UDC. My youngest brother is a Morehouse Man. I have cousins that have attended Bowie State. My daughter was born at Howard University Hospital, where my great-aunt worked for many years as a nurse. As you can see, we are an HBCU family.

I share all of that to say that while I am first and foremost a Spelman Woman, I am the product of every school that has been a part of my family. I advocate for HBCUs because I understand the history and continued importance of these institutions to America. My feathers get ruffled every time someone questions the legitimacy or relevance of these schools.

I announced my intention to encourage alumni to give last week and want to provide some additional details of my Just Give project. I was writing in frustration over news circulating among alumni, including decisions by institutions undertaken, in my opinion, for financial reasons. I was also reacting to some criticism of a high profile donation. And then on Saturday, I saw this and it deepened my exasperation. Money is always an issue, at every school, all the time. It dawned on me that if we treated our schools like a political campaign or the church building fund, then some of their needs (and hence decisions) would be less desperate. So instead of highlighting a specific school, I decided not to limit the focus. All of our schools need the support of all their alumni and if I can inspire just a few people to give to their schools, maybe this effort can go viral and inspire others.

I will be honest and keep it real--my blog reaches less than 20 people on average, I have 100 followers on FB, and I rarely tweet from @busyblackwoman, so I have no idea how many of those folks will receive this message. I am a one-woman show, but I am not discouraged! My small platform is sturdy enough for me to stand to make my case and so here is what I am asking: Just Give!

From now through June 30, I am asking if you are reading this blog, following my page on FB, or seeing my tweets, please Just Give to an HBCU (my hashtag #HBCUJustGive). It can be your alma mater. It can be the school where your parents or another beloved relative attended. It can be the school that you wanted to attend, but couldn't because they didn't give you any scholarships. It can be the school where your sorority or fraternity was founded. Or you can opt not to select any school and give instead to the United Negro College Fund or the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, two organizations that provide scholarships to students enrolled at public and private HBCUs. And the donation amount is very modest: the year of your graduation. So if you graduated in 1989, your gift would be $19.89.

The first phase of this campaign is launching to correspond with Graduation/Reunion season. Pretending that it began last week, my plan is to have each phase run for two months, so this phase will run from May 1 to June 30. The next phase will correspond to Homecoming season from September 1 to October 31; the third phase will correspond to Founders/Charter Day season to run from January 1 to February 28/29. Essentially, every two months, and again the request would be modest--the year you graduated, the year of your school's founding, or whatever year you wish to commemorate.

Using significant dates from my life as an example, in a year I would donate $57.88:
$19.94 during Graduation/Reunion season #HBCUJustGive
$19.13 during Homecoming season #HBCUJustGive
$18.81 during Founders/Charter season #HBCUJustGive

I've paid more for a pair of shoes. And I say that to point out how easy it is to select an amount that works within your budget.

If you follow me on Twitter, I am going to pin a tweet and ask that you retweet it in order to encourage others to join this effort. I will repost this piece at the Cafe and under a new page here on this blog and will find other ways to promote the campaign throughout the year. Since I don't have the technical widgets to know what impact, if any, this effort will have, consider this my pebble thrown into a pond. Maybe I can get some retweets. Maybe someone will be inspired to challenge others to join the movement. And maybe in the process, our schools will reap the benefits.


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