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hbcu

2 mins read

$1.7 Million in Student Debt Erased for Black Women at Bennett College

In North Carolina, students at Bennett College with past-due tuition bills in collection will see $1.7 million of their debts erased.

A union of borrowers known as the Debt Collective purchased and paid off the student loans of nearly 500 Black women at Bennett, an all-women liberal arts HBCU in Greensboro.

Bennett College issued this statement about the cancellation:

“We understand that this has been an exceptionally challenging time and want to ease people’s burdens. The debts that were erased for these 462 individuals were debts owed directly to the school. These debts are different from federal and private student loans, which we do not have the ability to cancel because they are owned by the federal government.”

The group describes itself as a debtor’s union, with dues-paying members. It’s partially because of those funds that the collective was able to coordinate the buyout of the Bennett College debt.

The Debt Collective acquired the debt through a sister entity known as the Rolling Jubilee, a nonprofit that buys and discharges medical, carceral and other forms of consumer debt.

Braxton Brewington, a spokesman for the organization, said they chose Bennett College in North Carolina because Black women on average have higher student loan balances than any other group of borrowers. The debt cleared does not include federal student loans, only money owed directly to the school.

“These are the people that are really taking the brunt of the student debt crisis,” Brewington said.

Bennett College pulled $1.7 million in student debts the college had sent to collections and instead allowed the Rolling Jubilee to buy it. That price? $50,000, or about three cents on the dollar.

The Debt Collective’s model for eliminating student debts isn’t going to solve the debt crisis. Rather, Brewington said, the group’s hope is to highlight how cheaply and easily debt can be cleared.

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2 mins read

157 Year Old HBCU, Lincoln College Now Closed Following Covid-19 And Cyberattack Related Struggles

Lincoln College survived the economic crisis of 1887, a major campus fire in 1912, the Spanish flu of 1918, the Great Depression, World War II, the 2008 global financial crisis, and more.

Unfortunately, the Illinois-based institution has finally met its match and closed its doors for good today.

Despite record-breaking student enrollment in Fall 2019, the coronavirus pandemic dramatically impacted recruitment and fundraising efforts, sporting events, and all campus life activities.

lincoln college
Ke’Shawn Hess, a business student at Lincoln College | Credit: (Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune)/Chicago Tribune via AP)

The economic burdens initiated by the pandemic required large investments in technology and campus safety measures, as well as a significant drop in enrollment with students choosing to postpone college or take a leave of absence, which impacted the institution’s financial position.

According to a statement on the school website, Lincoln College was also a victim of a cyberattack in December 2021 that thwarted admissions activities and hindered access to all institutional data, creating an unclear picture of Fall 2022 enrollment projections.

All systems required for recruitment, retention, and fundraising efforts were inoperable. Fortunately, no personal identifying information was exposed. Once fully restored in March 2022, the projections showed significant enrollment shortfalls, requiring a transformational donation or partnership to sustain Lincoln College beyond the current semester.

A Facebook group called Save Lincoln College tried unsuccessfully to help the school keep its doors open. The school, named after President Abraham Lincoln, held its final graduation last week.

“Everyone started leaving and we said our goodbyes, but we kind of realized we weren’t coming back,” a student said. “Other universities are offering them tuition and allowing them to start into the programs there but there’s never going to be a place like Lincoln.”

 

Tony O. Lawson


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1 min read

Graduating HBCU Students Debt Cleared By Anonymous Donor

DALLAS — Graduating students from Wiley College, an HBCU in East Texas, were told at their commencement ceremony that an anonymous donor had paid their balances.

Wiley College said in a news release that over 100 students were gathered for graduation Saturday when the school’s president, Herman J. Felton Jr., made the announcement, informing graduates they “do not owe the college a penny.”

“If you have a balance, you had a balance,” Felton Jr. said. “You no longer have a balance.”

The news release also stated, “The estimated total for balances owed to the College by the graduating class of 2022 is $300,000.00. The anonymous gift sets graduates on a continued path to success and allows Wiley College to strengthen its commitment to providing an affordable exceptional education. As Wiley College closes the academic semester and prepares for its Sesquicentennial Celebrations beginning in July, this is a great way to end the semester and start the celebration of 150 years of the College’s contributions to the world.”

The 2007 movie “The Great Debaters” starring Denzel Washington was inspired by a debate in 1935 in which Wiley prevailed over the University of Southern California’s nationally-known, powerhouse team at a time when the nation was heavily segregated.

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3 mins read

Howard University To Invest $785 Million in new Buildings and Renovations

Howard University will spend $785 million on new construction and building renovations, the largest real estate investment in the school’s history, officials announced today.

For the first time since 1984, Howard will be constructing new academic teaching centers on its campus. The majority of the funds ($670 million) will be used for the construction of new state-of-the-art multidisciplinary academic buildings, including the Health Sciences Complex, the Center for Arts and Communications, and the STEM Center.

The remainder of the investment will go toward major renovations to existing facilities on campus, including the Myrtilla Miner Building, which will house the School of Education and the Howard University Middle School for Mathematics and Science. These new construction projects are slated to begin this year and are expected to be completed by 2026.

“This is a watershed moment in the history of our institution,” said Wayne A. I. Frederick, president of Howard University. “Thanks to the caliber of students we have enrolled, the illustrious faculty we have assembled, the dedicated staff we have hired, the committed alumni base we have cultivated, and the tremendously enhanced financial posture we have worked so hard to achieve, the state of the University has never been stronger. Now is the time for us to take decisive action for the future of our institution. We are poised to leverage the strength we possess in the present moment to solidify Howard’s status as one of the preeminent institutions of higher education in the country. The steps we are taking today will be validated by the world-changing work of our students, faculty and alumni and by the essential service Howard will provide to communities in need.”

For financial and logistical reasons, the University cannot initiate all necessary and desired construction projects at the same time.

“Major construction initiatives on college and university campuses requires years of planning. We have to strategically prioritize which projects to undertake based on numerous factors, both internal and external. The fact that we are now positioned to move forward with three large-scale new construction efforts in addition to major renovations speaks volumes to the administration’s long-term vision and execution,” said Rashad Young, senior vice president and chief strategy officer. “These capital projects are going to dramatically accelerate our ability to achieve the goals we outlined in the strategic plan. With these new buildings, we will further enhance academic excellence, inspire new knowledge and serve the community.”

Read the full statement here.

Related: Howard University Alumni owned businesses

 


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2 mins read

Clark Atlanta University cancels student account balances for 2020-2021 school year

Clark Atlanta University announced this week that they will cancel student account balances from the spring 2020 semester through the summer 2021 semester.

University President Dr. George T. French said all student account balances from that time period will be brought to zero. The relief also applies to alumni.

“We understand these past two academic years have been emotionally and financially difficult on students and their families due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That is why we will continue to do all we can to support their efforts to complete their CAU education,” said President French. “We care about students and want to lighten their individual and family’s financial load so they can continue their journey in pursuing and attaining their educational and professional goals.”

French said the university’s ability to provide relief is due to the substantial amount of support it has gotten from the federal government under the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.

With the funds, CAU has been able to provide emergency financial aid dollars, refund some housing and meal charges, discount tuition and fees for the 2020-2021 school year, buy WIFI hot spots for students with no internet at home and buy 4,000 laptops for every financially enrolled student.

This initiative will not impact students’ future financial aid eligibility because it is a one-time outstanding balance cancelation.

Clark Atlanta University isn’t the first HBCU to help students financially because of the pandemic.
In May, Wilberforce University in Wilberforce, Ohio, announced it will cancel student debt for 2020 and 2021 graduates. The president of the university said at the time that the total amount of cleared debt would be more than $375,000.

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3 mins read

Curtis Lawrence III Graduated High School Early, Was Accepted to 14 Colleges and Chose an HBCU

In 2014, Curtis Lawrence III began taking dual enrollment courses at School Without Walls High School and George Washington University.

This spring, he will earn his Associates Degree and head to FAMU where he will pursue a double major in computer science and biology as well as a minor in Mandarin.

Curtis Lawrence III

Lawrence has also been awarded over $1.65 Million in Merit Scholarships. He was also accepted to Howard University, North Carolina A&T University, Morehouse College, Hampton University, Morgan State University, Claflin University, Hutson-Tillotson University, George Washington University, West Virginia Wesleyan, UC Berkeley, the University of Chicago, Yale and Harvard.

Lawrence’s love for education started at a young age. His parents, both educators, instilled the importance of school into he and his younger brother Corey early on, constantly taking them on trips to different museums, colleges, states and countries to expose them to what the world has to offer.

The competition is stiff among universities to recruit top young scholars. Dedra O’Neal, director of the FAMU Scholarship Program, has conducted Zoom calls with alumni scholars and prospective students since last fall.

The recruitment effort deploys alumni based in places such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Zambia, the Caribbean, France, and across the U.S. to discuss the FAMU scholar experience with top prospective students.

FAMU President Dr. Larry Robinson lauded Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. William E. Hudson Jr. for his role in successfully recruiting Lawrence. Hudson visited Lawrence’s Washington, D.C., high school, School Without Walls at George Washington University, last fall.

Lawrence said FAMU felt like home and explained one of the reasons he wants to be a Rattler: “Especially as a young student having been able to meet other students who also started college early at FAMU, and so I was able to really know that FAMU will provide me with that academic and professional support on top of schooling.”

Curtis Lawrence III
Curtis and his family | Credit: TN Democrat

Florida A&M University is competing with the best schools in the country to get top of the line students, including sixteen year old Curtis Lawrence III.

The young scholar now with his sights set on his undergraduate degree in which he doesn’t have to pay a dime.

Lawrence III could’ve continued his education at almost any university in the country but for his undergrad degree, his parents pushed an HBCU.

“We felt that at their start, right, at those fundamental times when you figure it out yourself. Who am I? What am I going to do in life?,” explained Curtis’ father Curtis Lawrence Jr. “To be in an environment that we felt would be nurturing I’m very supportive of their development. So that was very very important for us to create that level of foundation.”

 

1 min read

Black Veteran & HBCU Grad Creates A Seven-Figure Clothing Brand

HGC Apparel is a Black veteran owned clothing brand founded by Marcia Smith,  a 90’s kid who’s passionate about the uplifting and expansion of the Black community.

black veteran
HGC Apparel founder, Marcia Smith

In this interview, we discuss how this mother and Howard University grad’s time in the military influenced her entrepreneurial journey. We also discuss what she has done to find success online and how she protects her intellectual property.

Don’t forget to LIKE the video and SUBSCRIBE to the channel!

Tony O. Lawson


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1 min read

Master P Now Focused On Owning An HBCU Instead of an NBA Team

A few days ago, Master P (born Percy Miller) took to his Instagram account to announce his desire to own an HBCU.

“So, y’all know I always wanted to own an NBA team, but now I want to own an HBCU. It’s so important that we educate the culture. This message is all about educating our people,” he said during the video clip.

“I was shocked when I Googled who owned and founded HBCUs,” Miller said. “We can’t change the past but we can change the future by investing in the next generation. They going to have to sell some of these schools to us, or fund it the same way other major universities are funded.”

During the video, Miller expressed that he once had a desire to attend Southern University, an HBCU in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He encouraged others to join the movement to ensure that the nation’s historically Black colleges are able to offer proper education to our children.

Tony O. Lawson

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6 mins read

Morris Brown College Partners With Hilton And Black Owned Real Estate Investment Firm To Build $30 Million Hotel On Campus

Morris Brown College will partner with Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. and Miami-based CGI Merchant Group to develop a $30 million hotel on the campus of the historically Black college.

On Thursday, the Morris Brown board of trustees approved the deal that will involve a long-term land lease on the school’s quadrangle and an overhaul of Griffin Hightower Hall, a low-rise building next to the historic Fountain Hall.

morris brown college
The Historic Fountain Hall

The project comes as Morris Brown tries to rebound from accreditation issues and as U.S. companies and philanthropic groups inject more money into schools within the Atlanta University Center to increase racial equity.

Crews will build a 150-room hotel under the Tapestry Collection by Hilton. The project, which is funded through CGI’s recently launched $650 million Hospitality Opportunity Fund, will also include three restaurants and space to train students.

The “H-Fund”  focuses on acquiring and developing hotel properties throughout North American and Caribbean markets and target more than 20 hotels over the next three years. Partners in the fund include three-time Major League Baseball MVP and serial investor, Alex Rodriguez, and capital markets veteran and founder of Maverick CP, Adi Chugh.

“This is not just a commercial investment,” Raoul Thomas, founder, and CEO of CGI Merchant Group told Atlanta Business Chronicle. “We will be working with Hilton to support curriculum development and to provide guest lecturers.”

morris brown college
Raoul Thomas, CEO of CGI Merchant Group

The project will span 125,000 square feet near Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in southwest Atlanta. A hotel will make up the largest portion of the project, 91,000 square feet.

It would provide needed hospitality space just walking distance from campus. The nearest hotel is about a half mile from Morris Brown College. The 195-room Reverb by Hard Rock opened late last year next to Mercedes Benz Stadium in the Castleberry Hill neighborhood.

Several universities in Atlanta, including Georgia Tech and Emory University have large on-campus hotels which host guests and conferences.

In addition to the hotel, plans also include 34,000 square feet of classrooms and an auditorium.

“My goal is to become one of the top institutions in the country for Black and Brown people to learn how to own, operate, and manage hotels,” said Kevin James who became president of Morris Brown in 2019.

morris brown college
Dr. Kevin E. James, 19th President, Morris Brown College

Founded in 1881, Morris Brown College is a private, liberal arts historically Black institution. It is considered the first college in Georgia to be operated by and for African-Americans.

In the 1980’s and 1990’s, the school had a notable hospitality management program.

Nearly 20 years ago, Morris Brown lost its accreditation after its former president and a financial aid director were indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of fraud. While enrollment declined to fewer than 100 students, Morris Brown remained open.

In recent months the school has been making its way back.

Last month, members of the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, an accrediting agency, toured the campus.

In April, the group is set to vote on whether to make Morris Brown a candidate for accreditation. That would clear the way for the school to receive full accreditation within five years.

It will take money to get Morris Brown College back on its feet—to accommodate students, renovate its facilities and hire faculty and staff. But amid calls for racial justice and greater equity, corporate purses are wide open, as indicated by recent donations to other colleges in the Atlanta University Center complex.

“This is not a one and done contribution,” Thomas said. “The school will share directly in the [hotel’s] profits,” he said declining to give further details.

In addition to the profit-sharing agreement, CGI Merchant Group will establish a six-figure endowment for student financial aid.

The hotel is currently in the design phase. CGI Merchant Group tapped Atlanta-based C.D. Moody Construction and Chasm Architecture for the project.

The hotel at Morris Brown is expected to open in the summer of 2023.

Investors are optimistic that the completion date will give the hospitality industry time to rebound from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, and also provide ample time for Morris Brown to bounce back.

“This announcement should definitely open the eyes of those who want to work in hospitality,” said James who anticipates prospective students will be excited to “be a part of the resurrection class [at Morris Brown], and attend a school that has its own hotel in one of the top cities for hospitality in the country,” he said.

Source: Atlanta Business Chronicle


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5 mins read

Charles White Painting Missing For Decades From Howard University Turns Up At Sotheby’s

A painting by a noted artist Charles White vanished from Howard University in the 1970s and hadn’t been seen publicly until it turned up at Sotheby’s Auction House last month — and now the school is suing to get back the piece that they believe was stolen from them decades ago.

Howard University, acquired the artwork, “Centralia Madonna,” in the 1940s after its creator, Charles White, completed an artist-in-residency at the school, according to a lawsuit filed Friday in Manhattan federal court.

The ink drawing depicts an African American Madonna figure and had been in the university’s possession until at least 1974, when a graduate student viewed the work in the school’s collection and made a record of the piece, according to the suit.

charles white
Centralia Madonna

At some point soon after, the artwork was stolen from the school’s collection and marked as “missing” by a university curator in 1976, according to the lawsuit.

Staff at the university hadn’t been able to locate it in the decades since — until Sotheby’s Auction House in Manhattan contacted them in May to let them know it had been consigned and was scheduled to be put up for auction.

Charles White in his Los Angeles studio, 1970 photo: Robert A. Nakamura

Staff at the auction house told administrators at Howard that two people from South Carolina, Larry and Virginia Borders, had consigned the painting but provided no paperwork showing how it ended up in their personal collection, according to the suit.

The Borders gave shifting stories about how they acquired the work, first saying they received it as a wedding gift from someone named J.D. Kibler in 1972, according to the suit.

charles white
Charles White, 1943, Photograph by Gordon Parks at age 25

They allegedly changed their story, claiming Kibler gave it to them as a gift for no particular reason — but couldn’t expand on their relationship with him, or even provide his first name.

“They claimed J.D. Kibler to be a close friend, they stated that they did not know what the ‘J.D.’ stood for,” the suit states.

In several phone calls and emails this week, the university demanded the Borders return the painting to the school, which the pair refused to do, according to the lawsuit.

The university filed the suit Friday, seeking the artwork’s return and attorney fees related to the legal action. The case is Howard University v Borders, 20-cv-4716, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

(L-R) Howard University President Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederickand Gwendolyn H. Everett, Ph.D., director of the Howard University Gallery of Art and associate dean for the Division of Fine Arts beside Five Great American Negroes, at the Howard University Law Library

The couple’s “claims are all the more implausible given that Howard University has never sold or de-accessioned any work from its collection, and would certainly not sell or de-accession a work by Charles White, a hugely significant Black artist with strong ties to the university,” Howard said in its lawsuit.

In addition to purchasing several of his works, Howard appointed White to a three-year professorship shortly before his death.

In a statement, Sotheby’s said they are a third-party and the ownership dispute involves the Borders and Howard.

“This is an ownership dispute between the University and the consignors, which follows Sotheby’s due diligence in researching the work’s provenance,” the auction house said.

“Sotheby’s is merely a third-party stakeholder and will comply with any decision of the court,” it added.

 

Sources: New York Post and Bloomberg


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