Bennett College Officials Raise $8.2 Million, Exceed Fundraising Goal
Updated: Monday at 6 p.m.
Officials at Bennett College announced Monday that they exceeded their $5 million fundraising goal by more than $3 million. The money is needed to help the Greensboro-based, historically black college for women in its accreditation appeal later this month.
At an emotional press conference filled with prayers, motivational speeches, songs and tears, college officials announced campaign donations of $8.2 million.
“Bennett College is eternally grateful to the more than 11,000 donors from across the United States,” said Bennett President Phyllis Worthy Dawkins. “People like the N.C. Central University graduate who was furloughed during the government shutdown, but still made a contribution to Bennett.”
The school’s "Stand With Bennett" fundraising campaign kicked off in December, shortly after the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges, SACS, revoked Bennett’s accreditation. SACS officials questioned whether Bennett is financially sound long-term.
Bennett officials appealed the decision and launched the $5 million fundraising campaign to improve their chances of having the accreditation reinstated. Funds large and small came in online and in the mail from alumnae, black sororities and fraternities, churches, businesses, individuals and other colleges. Dawkins said no donation was too small.
“You guys may have seen us carrying jugs on the streets collecting money during the MLK celebration and parade. We had no shame,” Dawkins said with a laugh.
Bennett officials were up against a Feb. 1 deadline and said the money had to be deposited in their account by Monday morning. They received two, half-million donations last week and a $1 million grant from High Point University.
During Monday’s announcement, High Point school officials presented Dawkins with checks from other donors totaling nearly $360,000. A couple from Los Angles, both business owners, gave a $1 million donation.
"As alumnae, we did not think we could appreciate and love Bennett College more than we have for all of our lives,” said Gwendolyn Rice, president of Bennett’s National Alumnae Association. “The thought of losing her was more than one could bear. Today, we have demonstrated that nothing can stop us now.”
Bennett’s accreditation appeal hearing will be held in Atlanta between Feb. 18 and Feb. 20. Bennett is a United Methodist School. And although Dawkins is optimistic that they will win in the appeal, she said they have applied for accreditation with the Transnational Association for Christian Schools.