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A $50,000 competitive grant award from The Home Depot’s “Retool Your School” program follows a successful two-month social media campaign, and promises students a new “social hub” on the Tuskegee University campus. The award represents the third consecutive year the university has received a Retool Your School grant — and the first time it has received the grand prize in its voting cluster.
Popular voting through social media posts containing the #Tuskegee_RYS18 hashtag and online votes cast on Tuskegee’s behalf from late January and through mid-April narrowed down finalists in the annual grant program’s Cluster 2 to Tuskegee, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and Claflin University. Each of the finalists was invited to submit campus improvement proposals for consideration by a panel of judges. Grants of $30,000, $40,000 and $50,000 were available in each voting cluster.
On Monday, April 30, The Home Depot announced its Retool Your School winners at an event at its Atlanta corporate headquarters. Representing Tuskegee was Burt Rowe, president of the Tuskegee National Alumni Association, and Krystal Floyd, the university’s development director. Also present (and pictured) was actor Laz Alonzo (far left) and The Home Depot Senior Manager of Marketing Melissa Brown (far right).
“I am so proud of the students, alumni, faculty, staff and friends who voted strong for Tuskegee University during the Retool Your School voting period,” Rowe said. “These online and social media votes — along with a great proposal supported by our Student Government Association — were essential elements in us winning the $50,000 grant this year.”
Tuskegee will use this $50,000 Retool Your School grant to create a new outdoor “social hub” located adjacent to Russell, Banneker, Bethune and Younge residence halls. This multiuse area will provide students — especially those living around this high-traffic area of campus — with a space to study and socialize, as well as a location for teaching classes, hosting student recruitment and campus tour groups, and conducting events.
“Students — particularly those residing on campus — have expressed a need for more areas where they can socialize,” said Austin Turk, president of Tuskegee’s Student Government Association. “With the social hub’s close proximity to several residence halls, hundreds of students will have a nearby location to get out of their dorms and enjoy the outdoors while visiting with friends, studying in small groups and unwinding around their studies and other school commitments.”
At the center of the social hub will be a 22’x22’ pavilion, surrounded by a pair of pergolas and several smaller seating areas where students can study and visit. The area also will feature adequate lighting for evening use, a grilling station where students can cook out, and open spaces where they can play games or enjoy other outdoor recreational activities.
In keeping with The Home Depot’s theme of “green” projects, the space will feature energy-efficient lighting and ecofriendly landscaping. The availability of adequate lighting and electricity will provide students a location where they can feel safe and connected into the evening hours.
Construction is expected to begin this summer under the leadership of the university’s Facilities and Capital Improvements team and leaders of the Tuskegee University National Alumni Association Inc. Labor and additional funds will be provided through partnerships with various alumni organizations, including the alumni-led “Adopt-a-Dorm” program, as well as private donations made in support of the project.
To make a charitable donation that will immediately benefit the construction of this Retool Your School grant project, as well as the renovation and upkeep of Tuskegee’s other campus facilities, visit www.tuskegee.edu/give.
Established in 2010, The Home Depot’s “Retool Your School” program strives to give back to the nation’s HBCUs that have generously provided their communities with a strong foundation, a renewed purpose and a distinctive character. In all, 67 HBCUs divided into three clusters based on their total enrollment were eligible to compete for the grants. The program has award $2.2 million in grant money to HBCUs since it was created. For more information about the program, including contest rules and guidelines, visit www.retoolyourschool.com.
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