Latest Xavier University News
Nov 30, 2021
Photo Credit: I Heart My HBCU The average rate of alumni giving at the nation’s 105 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) has hovered around 10% for the past few decades, with private HBCUs having slightly higher rates of giving than their public counterparts. However, some HBCUs have alumni giving rates that any college in the country would covet. Claflin University , in Orangeburg, South Carolina, for example, has an alumni giving rate of nearly 48% . Spelman College , in Atlanta, Georgia, and Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina — institutions that educate Black women — both boast a nearly 39% alumni giving rate. These three small colleges work hard to instill a culture of giving from the first day students arrive on campus, resulting in committed alumni and ample giving. Recognizing that HBCU alumni might give more if giving was easier, Howard University alumnus Dominique King founded I Heart My HBCU , a mobile app that allows people to donate their spare change to HBCUs. The app works like other spare change technology — allowing users to round up their credit and debit card purchases and donate to five of their favorite HBCUs. Users can also make monthly or one-time donations to HBCUs using the app. I Heart My HBCU app. Photo credit: I Heart My HBCU During a time when people are increasingly isolated due to the Covid-19 pandemic, King believes HBCUs need a tool that fosters community. The I Heart My HBCU app intentionally goes beyond a “set and forget” platform — typical of spare change apps — and attempts to attract new users and keep them engaged through activities. King set up alumni chat rooms to foster engagement around HBCUs . Alumni are able to come together and reminisce about their HBCU experiences, which helps to foster additional giving. According to King, “While HBCU alumni are large in numbers, preserving our HBCUs will take a community effort. I Heart My HBCU’s chat integration takes the app from just being a donor marketplace to a donor community for HBCU alumni and friends of HBCUs to network, exchange ideas, support other Black-owned businesses and, most importantly, support HBCUs.” MORE FOR YOU King wants to bring financial support to HBCUs because her own experience at Howard was vital to her success: “the culture was uplifting and played a role in giving me the confidence to be a tech entrepreneur.” Given King’s interest in tech-based marketing, she could have directed her idea towards many other areas of need, but her plan was “to preserve the rich heritage of HBCUs and combat challenges that lead to the closures of some of these great institutions.” Of note, King wants users to think about supporting all HBCUs and not just the one from which they graduated. Thus, users choose five HBCUs for their spare change to benefit. With this approach, King is spreading the wealth throughout the HBCU community and ensuring that users learn about all HBCUs. “When creating this app, it was important for me to encourage HBCU alumni to support all HBCUs. Users can easily adjust how much or how little of their spare change they share to their five favorite HBCUs,” says King. King recently partnered with Xavier University of Louisiana , located in New Orleans and known for its stellar record of placing African Americans in medical school . Research on income mobility finds that the Xavier, while enrolling large numbers of low-income students, has a higher income mobility rate than any other HBCU, and a higher rating than comparable Predominantly White Institutions as well. Specially, nearly 80% of Xavier graduates reach incomes on par with the median U.S. earner (i.e. middle class status). Xavier University has a relatively strong alumni giving rate at 17% ; however, given how many of the institution’s alumni become doctors, and its track record in terms of income mobility, there is considerable potential for growth. Through the partnership with the I Heart My HBCU app, Xavier students, alumni, and friends will be able to connect and raise funds to support scholarships, academic programs, campus enhancements, and the institution’s endowment. During the two-year partnership, Xavier and I Heart My HBCU jointly aim to have 10,000 people join the Xavier University donor community, and for every new donor who signs up, I Heart My HBCU will donate an additional $1 up to $10,000. According to Lacrecia Jones , Director of Alumni Relations & Annual Giving at Xavier, “Not only does the spare change app serve as a way to reach donors and raise money for the university, but it is also providing a way for Xavierites to reconnect and remain connected no matter where they are in the world.” Xavier is particularly excited about the spare change app because it creates a space for donors who may not be able to contribute large amounts. Executive Director of Advancement Services at Xavier, Kendra Tircuit shared, “We want to ensure that everyone understands that every donation counts, no matter how big or small. Those small amounts add up and allow us to make big changes on Xavier’s campus.” HBCU alumni are known for being fiercely loyal and frequent visitors to their alma maters. Yet, their giving rates do not correspond to this loyalty. The I Heart My HBCU app provides an avenue for anyone anywhere to donate spare change to any HBCU in the country and King is hoping it makes a difference in alumni giving. Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn . Check out my website or some of my other work here .