GREENSBORO, N.C. — Two major donations to Bennett College were announced Wednesday as part of an effort to keep the school open.
The donations, from Alpha Kappa Alpha and Wells Fargo, will go to support the private, historically black college for women which must meet a $5 million fundraising goal in order to safeguard the school’s accreditation.
Alpha Kappa Alpha Inc.
The sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha pledged to contribute $100,000.
Alpha Kappa Alpha, founded in 1908 at Howard University, is considered the nation’s oldest African-American sorority.
The sorority has such notable members as Congresswoman Kamala Harris, who is running to be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States, as well as actress Phylicia Rashad and author Toni Morrison.
“We are honored to provide Bennett College with their full endowment immediately to support their fundraising goals,” said Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. International President Glenda Glover.
Bennett College President Phyllis Worthy Dawkins expressed her gratitude for the significant contribution.
“On behalf of the Bennett College Board of Trustees, as well as our faculty, staff and students, I can’t thank President Glover and the members of AKA enough for their donation to Bennett College,” Dawkins said. “While we appreciate all of the support Bennett has received from individuals, foundations and corporations, substantial gifts like the one from AKA will go a long way toward helping us reach our fundraising goal of a minimum of $5 million by Feb. 1. We are truly appreciative to the women of AKA for their amazing support.”
Wells Fargo Bank
Wells Fargo Bank contributed $50,000, the first substantial gift from the banking community, according to the college.
Wells Fargo Region Head of Middle Market Banking Pete Callahan said the bank was glad to donate due to the value Bennett adds to the community.
“Wells Fargo is proud to continue our support for Bennett College and help provide opportunities for their students to be successful,” said Callahan. “We share the belief that supporting education is one of the most important investments we can make in our country’s and our local community’s futures. We know the return on an investment in a great education far exceeds those from the best mutual funds.”
Dawkins noted that this contribution is one part of a relationship that has extended since 2014 when the bank’s Wealth Management Division began working with Bennett’s Department of Business, Economics and Entrepreneurship.
“Wells Fargo allows a select group of Bennett students to spend a day shadowing their financial advisors at work and also awards two $5,000 scholarships to our students each semester, for a total of $20,000 annually,” Dawkins said. “Moreover, Wells Fargo representatives share career opportunities with students and provide them with resume review and advice. We cannot thank Wells Fargo enough for their continual support of Bennett and for this generous donation, which we hope will serve as a catalyst for other financial institutions to continue donating to us.”
Progress toward Bennett’s $5 million goal
Since Dec. 11, donations have poured in and pushed the college more than $3.11 million closer to the $5 million as of end of day Tuesday.
The college needs to hit the $5 million mark by Feb. 1 to stay open.
Other notable donations include, among others, the following:
- The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation in Winston-Salem donated $500,000.
- Papa John’s Pizza donated $500,000.
- Alpha Phi Alpha donated $31,000.
- Newmark Knight Frank donated $10,000.
The $5 million minimum is needed to maintain the school’s accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The school launched a strategic plan to make sure this probational period does not happen again. There are four main goals of the plan; fiscal stability, new majors, stabilization of the college and improving student life.
Regardless of the outcome, seniors graduating in May will be able to walk across the graduation stage.