While social media comes in for a good deal of criticism, there’s no doubt that it can be beneficial indeed. Bennett College in North Carolina can attest to this, for social media has come to its rescue.
Bennett College is a historically Black, all-female liberal arts school situated in Greensboro, North Carolina. For more than 12 years, the College has been facing a financial crisis that threatened its accreditation.
Because of the college’s economic instability, the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) voted the college out of commission.
College staff were horrified by the news and started trying to think of ways to save the historic school whose alumnae include many notable people, such as Beverly Buchanan, Dorothy Lavinia Brown, and many others.
The thought of losing this historically significant institution was too much to bear and required thinking out of the box to deal with the emergency.
In the words of Bennett College’s Vice President for Institutional Development LaDaniel Gatling commented, “When you are about to lose what you have, it makes leadership and stakeholders think differently.”
Turning to social media
Bennett College decided to turn to the world of social media for help as they knew that, when used properly, social media campaigns are capable of working virtual miracles.
They launched what they called the Million Dollar #StandWithBennett campaign in the hope that graduates would donate to the college. What they didn’t reckon on was catching the attention of celebrities who got involved and helped.
This includes Jussie Smollett (who plays Jamal Lyon on Empire), many of whose fans made donations to the campaign.
And the message didn’t stop there. Bennett College has a proud history of fighting against segregation during the Civil Rights Movement. This, they believed, makes the college still relevant today.
Hearing of the school’s plight, many historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU) came together to help save the college. These included Morehouse College and Spelman College. “The universe of these schools came together to say, ‘We can’t lose another HBCU,” said Gatling.
An unbelievable outcome
Although the college had hoped their social media campaign would raise a million dollars, they never imagined the final figure: a massive $8.2 million. The college’s administration described the support they’d got as “beautiful,” but there’s still a long way to go.
Even that enormous amount of money isn’t enough. President of SACS, Belle Wheelan, said that Bennett College still needs to prove that it is now financially stable.
So, although the coast is path ahead for Bennett College is not yet clear, they’re certainly a lot closer to their goal with a little help from social media.
Never could they have imagined that with the support of their friends, alumnae, a few celebrities, and a whole lot of other colleges, they could far exceed their initial goal.
They’re now on their way to keeping this traditional institution open and educating the leaders of the future.