The Home Depot held a live awards event bestowing more than a quarter million dollars in grants to Historically Black Colleges and Universities, funding their campus renovation and beautification projects. It was the first-ever 2015 Retool Your School Winners Announcement Luncheon held at their headquarters in Vinings, Georgia. Additionally, the White House’s Dr. Ivory Toldson recognized The Home Depot for their commitment to supporting HBCUs.
“The very first HBCU [Cheyney University] opened its doors in 1837. Here we stand today in 2015 contributing to the sustaining history of Historically Black Colleges and Universities through the Retool Your School program,” says Melissa Gray Brown, manager of multicultural marketing for The Home Depot. “Isn’t that awesome? “
In 2009, The Home Depot created Retool Your School, which aligns the company’s vision for community service with one of the main pillars in the African American community, education. Giving back is one of the world’s largest home improvement retailer’s core values. Over the past six years, The Home Depot has engaged more than half of the 102 HBCUs and issued 74 grants totaling $1.2 million, helped schools meet ADA Compliance, allowed for energy efficiency upgrades, installed rainwater gardens, and upgrades to sporting facilities.
“Actioning feedback helps you to increase growth,” Brown adds. The Home Depot has “embraced change, culled to one comprehensive proposal” and made program enhancements to “consistently deliver a sustainable program that can grow year after year. One of the main pieces of feedback was to level the playing field so all participating HBCUs would have a viable opportunity to win one of these valuable grants.”
For 2015, they have three clusters and three winners — Tier 1 Grant, Campus Pride Grant, and Tier 2 Grant — in each cluster. Tier 1 and 2 Grants are determined based on written proposals scored by judges and online voting. Campus Pride is based on highest online votes and social media activity.
Retool Your School since its launch in 2010 has garnered nine million votes and galvanized the community, faculty and supporters.
“Thanks to all HBCUs support for making this program so valuable to The Home Depot. We are proud to back these campuses for the sixth year in a row; it’s a testament to how important they are to our company, says Michael Hibbison, VP integrated media and marketing. “One of our core values is giving back. Not only is it monetary, but in comes in hours. We give our time. We continue to be excited about this program and look forward to being involved in it for years to come.”
“This is a program that I’ve known about since its inception. as deputy director, one of the things we’re tasked with through an executive order signed by the President of the United States Barack Obama is to foster private sector partnerships with HBCUs. We believe this is a model partnership for a number of reasons. One, it instills a sense of pride across campus. It’s an initiative that allows students, faculty, staff and administration to come together and reach out to the broader alumni community and other supporters to support their campus. It’s a model that can be use and translated to other aspects of the Universities including their fundraising efforts,”explains Toldson, deputy director for White House Initiative on HBCUs.
“We also believe the emphasis on physical plants is a rare emphasis but is so important. We know universities foster intellectual awareness among students. We know that through many different events that it uplifts the spirit of students. But sometimes we don’t look at the body of the university as closely as we could. The Home Depot’s Retool Your School focuses on that physical aspects of the university: safety, ambiance and amenities – everything that makes students happy, coming to a beautiful campus where they feel safe and secure. I applaud The Home Depot’s Retool Your School program.” He closed with the presentation of a proclamation to Brown from POTUS.
“This was not an easy task for the judges who reviewed 55 proposals, deliberating and engaging in healthy debate and discussion to determine the 2015 winners,” Brown urged.
And the 2015 Retool Your School winners are…
Cluster 3 (up to 1200 students): Tier 1 Grant ($50K) winner, Huston-Tillotson College; Campus Pride Grant ($25K) winner, Laine College; and Tier 2 Grant ($10K) winner, Vorhees College.
Cluster 2 (1201 to 3999 students): Tier 1 Grant ($50K) winner, Oakwood University; Campus Pride Grant ($25K) winner, South Carolina State University; and Tier 2 Grant ($10K) winner, Spelman College.
Cluster 1 (4000+ students): Tier 1 Grant ($50K) winner, North Carolina Central University; Campus Pride Grant ($25K) winner, Texas Southern University; and Tier 2 Grant ($10K) winner, Hampton University