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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe H.O.P.E. Scholarship Initiative wasn’t created to exist in isolation. The H.O.P.E. Scholarship was designed to be a template for HBCU alumni interested in leveraging their time, money and talent to empower their Alma maters.

Since our inception in 2010, The H.O.P.E. Scholarship has raised nearly $10,000 and awarded six scholarships to six deserving students, five of which were enrolled at HBCUs. We have managed to raise this money by doing two simple things: asking people we know and people we don’t know to donate to our cause and by providing numerous opportunities for everybody to give. You have the capacity to do the same for your beloved university.

Over the past several weeks, we have all been bombarded by news stories explaining the deep financial troubles facing many HBCUs.

Historically black colleges in financial fight for their future

State of Emergency for Black Colleges

Grambling University Football Boycott: Canary in a Coal Mine

I could go on, but I won’t. The narrative of financial struggle is woven so thoughtfully into the fabric of our institutions that we sometimes turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the severity of these economic challenges.

Many HBCU alumni beam with pride when the topic of conversation turns to their school. They quickly riddle off the school’s celebrity alumni and recent accomplishments. They wear the gear and recite the cheers as if they were still students, but do they give? If our institutions are going to survive and thrive in the 21st century, it’s incumbent upon all of us who consistently pledge our love and allegiance to our “illustrious” universities to invest in them with dollars and cents! Put your money where your pride is.

This blog is a clarion call to HBCU students and graduates across the country to start brainstorming ways to support their universities with their finances. No excuses. Whether it’s a donation to your school’s annual fund or a membership with your university’s alumni association or a personal  scholarship to a student in need, you are morally obligated to re-invest.

In the words of HOPE Scholarship director, Jeffrey Chance, “HBCU pride does not pay HBCU bills.” Let’s make 2014 a renaissance year for HBCU giving. I promise to do my part. I double dog dare you to do yours.

As always, live HOPE. Give HOPE!

Michelle Janaye
The H.O.P.E. Scholarship Initiative