Papa John’s $500K Donation Helps Bennett College Meet Its Goal To Stay Accredited

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Written by Dana Sanchez

A $500,000 donation by Papa John’s pizza chain has helped Bennett College raise the $5 million it needed to keep its status as an accredited institution of higher education.

Based in Greensboro, North Carolina, Bennett was the first all-women’s historically Black college or university. It was started in 1873 to educate emancipated slaves.


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The board of trustees of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Commission on Colleges voted to remove Bennet’s membership due to financial instability in December, NBC 12 WXII reported.

A private college, Bennett exceeded its $5 million fundraising goal needed to demonstrate financial stability, raising $8.2 million instead. Checks were still coming in Monday, the university president said.

Bennett College
FILE – This July 17, 2018, file photo, shows the corporate headquarters of Papa John’s pizza located on their campus, in Louisville, Ky. Papa John’s is adopting a shareholder rights plan as it looks to safeguard against its disgraced founder possibly attempting to take control of the pizza chain. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File)

Bennett, along with other HBCUs, was devastated by the 2008 recession and changes to the Parent PLUS Loan program in 2010-12. Many students who relied on federal aid were deterred based on their financial situations. The changes lowered the number of students attending HBCUs by 40,000.

The school launched a “Stand with Bennett” fundraising and social media campaign, Ebony reported.

Papa John’s donation is part of a transformation that began after founder John Schnatter resigned as the company’s CEO amidst accusations of racial insensitivity, according to a Jan. 15 Associated Press story.

Schnatter used a racial slur during a company conference call, according to Charlotte Observer.

Other donations that helped Bennett included $1 million from High Point University on Friday.

Bennett College President Phyllis Worthy Dawkins said there are plans in the works to make sure Bennett never is threatened again.

“Build an endowment, growing scholarship dollars, re-engineering the institution, changing our business model, looking at market-driven majors, so there’s a variety of things we plan to do,” Dawkins said, according to NBC12.

Not all social media users were forgiving of Papa John’s.