Saving One of America’s Last Black Women’s Colleges

Threatened, a historic university reaches an emergency fundraising goal—and then some.

Courtesy of High Point University

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

Just two months ago, Bennett College looked like it might have to close its doors. One of the last two remaining historically black colleges for women, Bennett lacked the funds needed to meet its accreditation requirements.

But over 55 days, the 146-year-old North Carolina school used social media and found an array of allies in its mad dash to raise $5 million by the February 1 deadline. Bennett ended up raising $8.2 million from 11,000 donors, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

Of that total, $1 million came from nearby High Point University, another Methodist-affiliated institution. The university’s graduates and staff made significant individual donations.

“In your toughest times, you know who your friends are,” said Bennett President Phyllis Worthy Dawkins.

High Point’s president, Nido Qubein, put it this way: “We as a neighbor school cannot just stand by.” Later, at a news conference announcing that Bennett had reached its fundraising goal, he added, “This isn’t about money. This is about the future of tens of thousands of young women who will exit Bennett to serve the world and plant seeds of greatness.”

Recharge is a weekly newsletter full of stories that will energize your inner hellraiser. Sign up at the bottom of the story.

  • An end run to help kids—and their mothers. New moms in jail often miss out on the opportunity to breastfeed their babies. But thanks to a new program in Philadelphia, they can now pump their milk and have a relative or friend feed it to their children. This can help keep infants healthy—studies show that breast-fed babies suffer fewer infections and hospitalizations than formula-fed babies—while giving moms a greater sense of purpose as well. “I can still have some type of connection with my daughter, a connection through the milk,” said Cierra Jackson, one of the mothers participating in the program. (Next City)
  • “Hi crochet friends.” Jonah Larson started crocheting at five years old. Now 11, he has a business selling his creations online. “After a very hard, busy, chaotic day in this busy world with school, it’s just nice to know that I can come home and crochet in my little corner of the house while sitting by the one I love most: my mom,” Larson told NPR from his family’s Wisconsin home. The crochet prodigy donates a portion of his profits to the Ethiopian orphanage from which he was adopted. Larson says he wants to refine his work at a crocheting summer camp, then attend West Point and eventually become a surgeon. (La Crosse Tribune)
  • Rushing to help. A video of three rappers helping an elderly woman and her husband get into their car in Florida went viral last week. “I kept thinking, ‘She could have been my grandmother,’” said one of the men, who goes by Marty. “It was a beautiful thing to see,” said Kenesha Carnegie, a sheriff’s deputy who posted the video. “I know these men from the neighborhood, and I wanted them to have that moment to show who they really are.” Thanks to Joanne Dixon for the link. (Atlanta Black Star)
  • How one city made Election Day a holiday. City leaders in Sandusky, Ohio, wanted to remove Columbus Day as a holiday, but the city’s unions didn’t want to lose a paid day off. The compromise? Swapping in Election Day and making it a paid holiday for the city’s 250 workers. “We don’t have to wait necessarily for states or the federal government to make this change,’’ said City Manager Eric Wobser. (NPR)

Have a Recharge story of your own or an idea to make this column better? Fill out the form below or send me a note at

More Mother Jones reporting on Recharge


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend