Although Bennett College is known for its rich HBCU history, the institution recently found itself in jeopardy of losing its accredidation. It was founded in 1873, as a coeducational institution. Bennett became women’s only in 1926, making it only one of two all-women’s historically black colleges.
According to CBS News: “Bennett had a history of debt for the past 12 years which was exacerbated by the 2008 financial crisis. With the school unable to show financial stability, its accreditor, the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), voted Bennett out of membership, saying its probation couldn’t be extended for a third year.”
Instead of being counted out by the public, givers immediately showed support, including other HBCU’s. More than 11,000 people and groups from across the state and nation donated small and large amounts of money.
The viral campaign #StandWithBennett became so widespread that even the Smollett Family, an African-American family of musicians and actors, also signed-on to support the college and to help with fundraising. One of the most notable members is “Empire” actor/singer-songwriter Jussie Smollett. He took to the Twitter sharing: “In the 1930s we had 121 #HBCUs now we’re at 101, don’t let us be down to 100… The legacy must continue…”
Bennett College initially set out to raise $5 million but on Monday College President Dr. Phyllis Dawkins was met with jubilation, as she announced that the school raised a whopping $8.2 million!
Bennett will remain an accredited institution until a hearing is scheduled on 02/18/19 in Atlanta. Until then, Bennett set a deadline to raise funds to prove in the appeal that they can manage to stay afloat.
Written by: Kyle Daniels