I made my alumni giving contributionsÂ today – to my high school, college, and MBA program, and also to the Howard University Gift a Senior campaign.
Financial need is the #1 barrier to receiving a #HowardU degree. Help our seniors finish their journey by donating! https://t.co/Lga8JRJ4eK pic.twitter.com/P8hVzJf7m7
— Howard University (@HowardU) April 28, 2017
Weâ€™ve helped 27 students so far. There is one week left before the May 7 Gift a Senior deadline. #GiftaSenior https://t.co/T7QGKzN1XW pic.twitter.com/kBWhtTWApB
— Howard University (@HowardU) May 5, 2017
I’m not a Howard alum. But I am from Washington DC, and in particular I grew upÂ when DC was the murder capital, when just about every local story was bad. Our mayor was convictedÂ on drug charges, and Congress took away financial home rule.
But Howard was admired. One of the top historically black colleges & universities, it had taught a miles-long list of notables,Â from public servants like Thurgood Marshall to artists likeÂ Toni Morrison. Howard was a demonstration that DC could lead, that its citizens weren’t just the owners of Taxation Without Representation license platesÂ and the victims of those murders.
I’ve been sad over the last decade to read about Howard’sÂ multiple crisesÂ ofÂ leadership and finances, and not sure how to lend support. Then in 2015 I read about the Gift a Senior campaign.
Gift a Senior grants money to students who have fulfilled their graduation requirements but can’t graduate because they owe money to the university. It might be a few hundred or a few thousand dollars. The problem isn’t getting smaller – in 2015 “180 prospective graduates owed about $380,000,” and this year the campaign page talks aboutÂ 224 seniors with balances totallingÂ $1.35 million.
And so I’ve given Gift a Senior the same amount I’ll pay on my student loans this month.
I have student loans because I invested in my future career by going back to school. I’m grateful I can afford to pay them, and sorry I can’t make it to either my high school (20th) or business school (5th) reunions this year. I’ve been fortunate, and I remember the DC I grew up with.Â Gift a Senior is my investment in the future of DC, and of Howard University, and of a Bison whose story I might notÂ hear but who will write a better one because they can graduate next weekend.
I hope to wipe out moreÂ of my loans this year, so I’ll have to find a new metric for how muchÂ to give next year. But my alumni giving will again goÂ to my own schools, plus toÂ Gift a Senior.