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Home Depot Kicks Off Contest for Historically Black Colleges and Universities
Home Depot’s campus improvement grant program – Retool Your School – kicked off in 2011 with a simple mission: give back to our nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) by facilitating updates to campuses. Entering its ninth year, the program has far surpassed its initial goal, awarding $1.8 million through 490 grants. It supports a variety of projects for different schools, each one instilling a sense of ownership and community for those involved.
“Retool Your School is a catalyst for rallying the spirit of the community within the campus. It demonstrates there’s a tremendous amount of enthusiasm for the university as a whole,” says Rodner Wright, Florida A&M University (FAMU) provost and 2016 grant recipient.
When FAMU entered the contest in 2016, its hope was to build an outdoor eco-classroom to help extend learning outside the traditional classroom. Today, the classroom not only addresses food security with herb and vegetable gardens, but also supports the entrepreneurial spirit of students who sell and donate the food grown during the year.
At South Carolina State, the 2016 grant beautified the campus memorial park, dedicated to three students killed during the 1968 Orangeburg Massacre. With new benches, gazebos and landscaping, students and the community have an improved gathering space.
“This is an investment that will mean a lot and have a massive payback. It will have a significant meaning for us as an institution,” says South Carolina State President James E. Clark.
These projects are just a snapshot of the effect of Retool Your School. And while they’re all different in scope, the result is the same. Each provides the students and communities surrounding HBCUs with a place to come together and call their own.
“This is one thing that every student on the campus can contribute to,” explains Juwan Ayers, president of the Student Government Association at South Carolina State.
The voting period for Retool Your School launches today and will run through April 15. This year, $360,000 will be distributed amongst nine winners. HBCU supporters can vote at retoolyourschool.com or via Twitter and Instagram by using their school’s designated hashtags. Find each school’s official hashtag by visiting retoolyourschool.com. Consumer voting and project proposal scores, determined by a panel of judges, will decide grant awards.
Check out past projects from the Retool Your School Program: