There are several historically Black colleges and universities across the country that have experienced financial woes, and celebrities are stepping up to save them. After learning that Bennett College—an all-women HBCU—was on the brink of losing its accreditation, actors Jussie Smollett and his brother Jake Smollett stepped in to help the institution, Essence reported.
According to the news outlet, the school—which was founded in 1873 and became a women’s institution in 1926—needs to raise $5 million by February 2019 to stay afloat. The Smolletts took it upon themselves to use their platforms to spread awareness about what’s happening at Bennett College and motivate individuals to pitch in and help save the school. Jussie posted a photo of both him and his brother donning shirts that read “Stand With Bennett” accompanied with a caption that read “In the 1930s we had 121 #HBCUs now we’re at 101. Don’t let us be down to 100 if #BennettCollege, who has made the education of black women a priority since 1926, closes its doors.”
Bennett College President Dr. Phyllis Worthy Dawkins hopes that they can raise enough money to not only save the college from closing but keep the college’s doors open so that they can continue to educate, empower, and inspire leaders for generations to come. “We look forward to working with partners who understand that their investment supports the education of deserving young women whose potential is only limited by the opportunities we give them,” said Dawkins in a statement, according to the news outlet. “Our challenge is great. Our time is short. Our resolve is mighty.”
The Smolletts aren’t the only celebrities who are showing their support for HBCUs and their students. Beyoncé generously donated thousands of dollars to fund scholarships for HBCU students. Most recently, the cast of “A Different World” presented a $100,000 check from Ford to Southwestern Christian College in Texas.