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Z. Smith Reynolds & Papa John’s Step up for Bennett College

By Peacemaker Staff & Wire Reports / January 30, 2019

Within a span to 24-hours last week, both the Papa John’s Foundation and the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation donated $500,000 a piece to Bennett College, making both donations the largest gifts the academic institution has received since administrators announced they need to raise a minimum of $5 million by Friday, Feb. 1 to remain accredited.

“Papa John’s has supported educational institutions of all levels for years and we are a proud partner to many colleges across the country. That legacy continues through The Papa John’s Foundation’s support of Bennett College,” said Steve Ritchie, CEO of Papa John’s. “In August 2018, I committed to establishing a corporate foundation, and I’m pleased that its first grant will go to an institution that shares our values of equity, fairness, respect and opportunity.”

In a heartfelt expression of gratitude, Bennett President Phyllis Worthy Dawkins said, “We’re grateful and excited that The Papa John’s Foundation is choosing to support the protection of our college’s legacy as well as reignite the conversation around the importance of supporting diverse institutions around the country. Together, we hope to champion the continuing development of young women of color across the country.”

“This campaign is about more than giving dollars; it’s about helping Bennett College continue educating the next generation of Black female leaders,” said Victoria Russell, Papa John’s Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer. “We’re thrilled to provide this support towards Bennett’s fundraising goal and encourage others to do the same.”

Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation Executive Director Maurice “Mo” Green said the foundation believes in Bennett College’s legacy and wants to support it.
“I am grateful to have this opportunity to stand before you today to announce that the trustees of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation voted to give Bennett College $500,000,” Green said. “As one of only two HBCU women’s colleges, we are blessed to have this treasure in North Carolina but even more fortunate to have it in the Triad.”

Dr. Worthy-Dawkins said the donation from Z. Smith Reynolds is significant not only because of its size but also because of what the foundation stands for.

“The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation has been making a positive change in the lives of North Carolinians for many decades, and we at Bennett College are so blessed by this tremendous gift,” Dawkins said. “Bennett College is an esteemed institution that deserves to remain open to ensure women of color will have a safe haven in Greensboro where they can come to be educated and shaped into global leaders, analytical thinkers and effective communicators.

“This most gracious gift will go a long way toward helping us reach our goal…” Dawkins continued. “I cannot thank Mr. Green and The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation enough for their generosity. I truly appreciate them for believing in Bennett College.”

Green praised Bennett, not only for its excellence but also because of the Bennett College Middle College, a high school located on the campus of Bennett College. The Middle College at Bennett has had a 100 percent graduation rate many years, often has more than 95 percent of its graduates attend college each year, and has been recognized as a North Carolina and National School of Character and as a National Blue Ribbon School by the United States Department of Education. “It is my hope and the hope of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation that this gift of a half-million dollars will encourage others to give generously so this college can remain in existence.”

Papa John’s operates more than ten stores in the Greensboro area and will work with Bennett College and its partners to launch a national fundraising campaign to inspire other corporations and individuals to donate. In addition to the half million-dollar grant from The Papa John’s Foundation, the brand will purchase ads on national radio to raise additional awareness for Bennett’s campaign. These ads are airing now through February 1, the deadline for Bennett to reach its $5 million goal.

The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation is a statewide, private, family foundation that has been a catalyst for positive change in North Carolina for more than 80 years. Headquartered in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the foundation has invested $572 million into the state.

The foundation embraces a set of core values that emerge from its long history to further its mission of improving the quality of life for all North Carolinians. Its core values are Stewardship, Integrity, Fairness & Justice, Diversity & Equity, Civic Participation, Sustainability and Collaboration – values Bennett College instills in its students.

Last year, Bennett College launched a fundraising campaign to reach a goal of $5 million by February 1. With the support of various celebrities, Bennett alumnae and other HBCU alumni and the viral #StandWithBennett social media campaign, the institution has reached more than half of its $5 million goal.

Founded in 1873 as a coeducational institution, Bennett became women’s only in 1926. Spelman College in Atlanta is the country’s only other all-women’s HBCU.

Bennett has a history of producing outstanding women leaders, including: the first African American woman licensed surgeon in the south; the first woman or African American to head the U.S. Peace Corps, the first African American mayor of the city of Greensboro; the first African American female mayor in the state of Washington; the writer of the screenplay “The Loving Story,” which in 2016 was turned into an Academy Award-nominated motion picture; and the first woman to hold the position of Director of Drug Program and Policies and youngest Director within the Association of the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA); and the first African American woman to serve as Assistant Attorney General in the state of Massachusetts – just to name a few.

Make Your Donation to Bennett College:

  • Online:
  • Text2Give: Text the word BELLES to the number 444999
  • Cash App: $StandwithBennett
  • U.S. Mail: Send a check to Bennett College, Office of Institutional Advancement, 900 E. Washington St., Greensboro, N.C. 27401


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