According to a recent survey by U.S. News & World Report, among Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s) that provided data, the giving rate for their alumni is 11.2%, compared to a national average of 25.8% for private baccalaureate colleges.
However, Bennett College, with an alumnae participation rate of 35%, was touted in that July 2017 report for ranking third in giving among all HBCUs behind Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, and Claflin University in Orangeburg, South Carolina. Bennett and Spelman have the distinction of being the nation’s only two all-women’s HBCUs.
“Bennett College alumnae consistently step up to the plate to contribute in a major way to their alma mater,” said President Dr. Phyllis Worthy Dawkins. “Since arriving at Bennett as Provost in November 2015, I’ve been thoroughly impressed with the way Bennett’s alumnae donate their money and time to the Institution.”
With three months left in the fiscal year ending on June 30, 2018, Bennett Alumnae have already donated more than $853,600 to their alma mater, including three gifts of $100,000 or more. Their benevolence puts alumnae support on target to eclipse last year’s $1,000,085 contribution.
“It’s not uncommon for me to get a telephone call, text or email from an alumna asking how she can help the College,” Dawkins said. “That the alumnae reach out to us, rather than waiting on us to solicit them, shows they care about their alma mater, and they know we rely heavily on their support.”
Bennett College National Alumnae Association chapter members like Dr. Alice Holloway Young say they will always give to Bennett College because Bennett gave so much to them. Young, a 1944 Belle and retired educator, enrolled in Bennett after hearing about the Institution from a teacher who’d taught in her elementary school. The teacher thought Young would be a good candidate for Bennett, and she even helped her fill out the academic work scholarship application.
“It really was a work scholarship, too, because I scrubbed floors, washed windows and shined brass on the doorknobs in the residence halls,” said Young who lives in Rochester, New York. “The scholarship I received was for $2,500 which covered all four years.”
Young has established an endowed scholarship in her name at Bennett, to which she said she gave $20,000 in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2017, and $10,000 in the fiscal year before that.
“I give back because of that $2,500 scholarship,” Young said. “You wouldn’t be talking to me now if it wasn’t for that scholarship. It gives me good joy to give back to Bennett.
Dr. Pamela Warner, a Greensboro pediatrician who graduated from Bennett in 1992, said she started giving to Bennett when she was in residency training and could finally afford to do so. Like Young, Warner is grateful for the financial assistance Bennett provided her.
“I received a full Presidential scholarship to attend Bennett,” Warner said. “My parents wouldn’t have been able to afford a private education for me since I had an older sister at A&T at the same time.”
Warner, who said Bennett gave her “the knowledge and confidence she needed to succeed in medical school,” isn’t surprised that her alma mater consistently ranks in the Top Three in HBCU alumni giving.
“I know my Bennett sisters love our school as much as I do. And the friendly rivalry between the Greensboro Alumnae chapter and the Metro Washington, D.C. Alumnae chapter also helps. If we don’t support Bennett, how can we ask others who aren’t alums to support us?”
Shaunaray Otey ’12, began giving back just four years after she’d graduated.
“I felt good giving back to Bennett because of the positive influence Bennett has had on my life,” said Otey. “I lost my mother during my senior year at Bennett, and the faculty and staff, without hesitation, stepped in and helped me with small financial needs – like toiletry items and other things my mother would have provided.”
Especially helpful to Otey was the scholarship coordinator at the time, Crystal Mattison. Today Otey serves as a scholarship coordinator and counselor at Bennett, and she knows how important it is for students to have “gap funds” in order to stay in school.
Executive Director of Alumnae Relations, Audrey Demps Franklin ’72, said she’s proud of the way her Bennett sisters have shown up for the College during the first three quarters of the current fiscal year. Every time Bennett calls, Franklin said, the alumnae answer.
“And what’s really encouraging is young alums like Shaunaray Otey because they can influence other young alumnae,” Franklin said. “Sometimes people think they have to wait until they’re older and more established to contribute financially or to join the Bennett College National Alumnae Association, but the reality is alumnae are never too young to start giving back to Bennett. We appreciate and accept all contributions – no matter the amount.”