GREENSBORO — Diamonds may or may not be a woman’s “best friend,” like the song says, but having a luxury jewelry retailer help pay for her college degree could come in clutch.
Beyoncé, Jay-Z, and Tiffany and Co. announced this week the launch of the About Love Scholarship program, a partnership between the jeweler and the BeyGOOD and Shawn Carter foundations. The program is funding scholarships at five historically Black colleges and universities in the United States, including Bennett College in Greensboro.
Tiffany & Co. pledged $2 million for scholarships for students at the schools. Bennett’s president says the private, women’s college is set to receive a total of $400,000 over four years.
“We are only as strong as the work we do together, and we are honored to partner with The Carters,” Anisa Kamadoli Costa, the chief sustainability officer at Tiffany & Co., said in a news release. “Their relentless dedication to lifting underrepresented groups is the inspiration for the About Love Scholarship program.”
Besides Bennett, the other schools are Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, Norfolk State University in Virginia, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and Central State University in Ohio.
Bennett President Suzanne Elise Walsh said that with this grant the Carters (otherwise known as Jay-Z and Beyoncé) wanted to support the creative arts while also reaching schools that are less known outside the HBCU community and more often overlooked by philanthropy initiatives.
So how did Bennett get on their radar? The school’s alumnae look to be one likely culprit.
Beyoncé and Jay-Z have a history of being involved with some other scholarship gifts to HBCUs. That included Beyoncé partnering with Google’s charitable arm to provide the Homecoming Scholars Award program at eight other HBCUs for the 2018-19 school year.
Walsh said that alumnae of Bennett wrote to the couple to suggest they also consider Bennett College’s students. The Carters’ teams, she said, indicated they had heard from the Bennett community.
“I know that’s one of the ways that called attention to Bennett,” Walsh said.
Walsh said she learned about the gift a week ago. She said the college is set to receive $100,000 per year in scholarships for the next four years. Applications will be accepted through 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 26 and will be awarded based on financial need, with priority for students who need emergency financial assistance.
For many colleges, that wouldn’t be all that much money. But Walsh said at Bennett, this scholarship grant is a big deal, and not so common, though she expects to announce another similarly sized gift soon.
The women’s college had about 230 undergraduate students last fall, and has embraced the concept of continuing as a “micro college” as part of the strategic direction it released in March.
Walsh said she especially appreciates that the gift will support students majoring in arts and creative fields. At Bennett, the qualifying majors are theater, music, journalism and media studies, and interdisciplinary studies with a concentration in history.
The arts, Walsh said, are also a field that often gets overlooked, despite their important role in society and in social change.
“I love having this opportunity to invest in those programs and those students,” she said.
This story was originally published by the Greensboro News & Record on September 14, 2021.