Tuskegee University seeks to claim another campus-improvement grant offered by The Home Depot’s annual “Retool Your School” program. As a social media-driven grant competition, it will be up to the Tuskegee family to support the university’s efforts to capture the top available prize of $50,000.
The nomination phase of the competition — now until Feb. 22 — relies on support from the university’s network of social media users to cast its votes by including the hashtag #Tuskegee_RYS18 in their Twitter and Instagram posts. For posts to either social network to count, the user’s account must be public; however, there is no limit to the number of times the hashtag can be used in a day. Only one use of the hashtag per post will count toward the overall vote totals.
Burt Rowe, national president of the Tuskegee National Alumni Association, stressed the importance of the entire university community banding together to support this effort.
“We’re striving for a three-peat in 2018, and this year, we have our sights set on the top prize,” Rowe said, referring to the university’s successful efforts to secure $30,000 and $40,000 Retool Your School grants in 2016 and 2017, respectively. “To win, we need our alumni, friends and fans to start posting — and to keep posting — with our hashtag until we have the $50,000 check in our hands.”
Rowe noted that this year it will take more than the 292,500-plus votes Tuskegee received last year to remain competitive.
Qualifying social media posts made by Feb. 22 will transfer into the voting phase of the contest, which begins on Feb. 26. In this second round of voting, Tuskegee would compete with other finalists in the contest’s “Cluster 2”: schools with an enrollment of between 1,201 and 3,999. Assuming Tuskegee advances to this round, social media supporters would continue casting their votes using the #Tuskegee_RYS18 hashtag, as well as voting daily at www.retoolyourschool.com.
Rowe noted that securing the grant is not the only role Tuskegee’s alumni play in the success of this effort. In 2017, The Home Depot’s $40,000 grant — combined with the help from alumni volunteers through the university’s “Adopt-A-Dorm” program — renovated bathrooms in Russell and Adams residence halls. Bathrooms received eco-friendly restroom, shower and lighting fixtures, along with new tile. In addition, the Retool Your School grant funded bathroom renovations in Luther Foster Hall, home to many of the university’s engineering programs.
Krystal Floyd, the university’s development director, agreed with Rowe that campus renovations and improvements benefit from a university-alumni partnership.
“Modern living and learning spaces are vital to ensuring Mother Tuskegee can remain competitive with universities around the country in recruiting and retaining our students,” she said. “Grants like this from The Home Depot and charitable gifts from our alumni and donors are part of the formula to providing our students with all they’ll need for a positive academic experience.”
When online voting ends on April 15, the three HBCUs with the most votes in each cluster will submit campus improvement proposals for consideration by a panel of judges. If Tuskegee is among this group, a team of TNAA and university leaders will determine the proposal’s focus, which can include facility remodeling, construction and/or eco-friendly renovations. Judges will evaluate the proposals based on their completeness, the school’s ability to execute, the project’s impact on campus, and its environmental sustainability as they determine the $50,000, $40,000 or $30,000 grant recipients.
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. For more information about the program, including contest rules and guidelines for social media/online voting, visit www.retoolyourschool.com.
To make a charitable donation that will immediately benefit the renovation and upkeep of Tuskegee’s campus facilities, visit www.tuskegee.edu/give.
© 2018, Tuskegee University