Thursday, June 2, 2005

Press Release


ATLANTA, Ga.-Benedict College Alumna Freeda Johnson was recently honored nationwide by the Kresge Foundation as one of the top 46 donors to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

Sponsored by The Coca-Cola Company, The Kresge Foundation HBCU Initiative Fifth Annual African-American Donor's Reception was held on May 24th to pay tribute to the growing vitality of African-American philanthropy by honoring 46 alumni donors from 38 HBCUs who donated a combined $25.2 million in gifts to their alma maters over the last five years. Mrs. Johnson of Spartanburg, S.C., is a 1949 graduate of Benedict College who made a $30,000 contribution to the institution.

Mrs. Johnson earned a B.A. degree from Benedict. She holds a M.A. degree from Hampton University and retired as a guidance counselor from the Spartanburg County School District. In honor of her husband, Dr. Coolidge M. Johnson, a Class of 1945 graduate from Benedict, she and her family established the Coolidge M. Johnson Endowed Scholarship Fund for deserving students studying mathematics and the natural sciences. Mrs. Johnson is the second Benedictine to receive the honor, following Dr. Rufus Pettis, a 1958 graduate and president of Awards Specialties in Charlotte, NC who contributed $125,000 to Benedict College last year.           

"Mrs. Johnson has a long history with Benedict and is a dedicated alumna who is well deserving of this recognition. We are grateful for our relationship with Mrs. Johnson and her financial support of our institution," said Mrs. Barbara C. Moore, Vice President of Institutional Advancement for Benedict College.

The Kresge Foundation HBCU Initiative will culminate this month, June 2005. The Initiative, carried out as a partnership between the Detroit-based Kresge Foundation and the Southern Education Foundation in Atlanta, was created as a special demonstration project to strengthen HBCU fundraising and advancement efforts.

"We are confident that we have met that goal and made significant and, hopefully, lasting progress," says John E. Marshall III, president or The Kresge Foundation. 

"African-American philanthropy to colleges and universities is on the rise, with more alumni making major gifts than ever before," said Billie Sue Schulze, program director for the Kresge HBCU Initiative. "When we started the Initiative in 1999, it was unusual to see HBCU alumni contributing significant gifts to their alma mater, and very rare to see gifts over six-figures."

The Donor's Reception is a highlight of the Initiative's annual Learning Institute, a continuing education and networking event for advancement professionals from the nation's HBCUs. Since the first Donor's Reception in 2000, the Initiative has honored 85 donors who made over $53 million in gifts to the HBCUs they attended.

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Source: Office of Public Relations