COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCIV) — BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina is donating money to South Carolina’s five, private four-year Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Those schools are Allen University and Benedict College, Claflin University, Morris College, and Voorhees College.
The donation is set to be allocated based on enrollment levels for specific priorities. Guidelines for funding include focusing on immediate gaps such as technology support. Some of the investment will help these schools cover operational costs and budget shortfalls. Most funding, however, will support specific priorities identified by the institutions themselves. These priorities will benefit more than 6,300 students and the faculty that serve them:
Allen, Benedict, Claflin and Morris is set to use almost $2 million dollars to upgrade their IT network security and bandwidth and will also provide laptops and internet service to enhance virtual learning for students and faculty. Benedict, Claflin, Morris and Voorhees will apply over $1 million to ensure their faculty members are equipped and prepared to offer effective virtual instruction. All five schools will receive nearly $3 million to help students struggling financially to return to school, as well as those who are unable to cover living expenses (books and supplies, meals, etc.). Benedict will use $400,000 to provide nursing and counseling services to its students.
Officials say due to COVID-19, HBCUs are at risk because these private colleges receive little to no state support and distance learning is complicated because many students live in areas where there is not high-speed internet service nor do they have computers.
Enrollment demographics reveal HBCU students are primarily African American and most students are low-income and more than half of them are the first in their families to attend college. Also, over 95 percent receive some form of financial aid.
“It has been well reported that the coronavirus revealed our minority communities encounter profound disparities in many ways,” says David Pankau, president and CEO of BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina. “At BlueCross, we believe healthy communities are defined not only by access to health care services, but also by the fostering of opportunity that comes from education, employment and the potential for an improved quality of life for everyone.”
ABC News 4