GREENSBORO — Bennett College says it will get its largest-to-date donation from the foundation of a national pizza chain.
The college announced the $500,000 gift from The Papa John’s Foundation on Thursday morning.
Company CEO Steve Ritchie posted this on Twitter on Thursday:
“@PapaJohns and The Papa John’s Foundation is proud to #StandwithBennett. The @BennettCollege mission is critical and continues our legacy of supporting colleges around the country.” @PapaJohns and The Papa John’s Foundation is proud to #StandwithBennett. The @BennettCollege mission is critical, and continues our legacy of supporting colleges around the country. https://t.co/Gtkxug5W47— Steve Ritchie (@stevemritchie) January 24, 2019
In a news release, the company said it plans to support the college’s national fundraising efforts.
“With more than ten franchises in the Greensboro area and our renewed commitment to doing better in the communities we serve,” the company said in a statement, “partnering with Bennett College to raise funds to protect the college’s accreditation status was a natural alignment.”
A spokeswoman for the Louisville, Ky., pizza delivery chain said this is the first gift made by The Papa John’s Foundation, which will formally open in several weeks.
Papa John’s announced in August that it would start a charitable foundation to help communities after reports surfaced that company founder John Schnatter used racist language in a conference call with a marketing firm a month earlier. Schnatter resigned as board chairman shortly afterward, and the company took his image off of its advertising and packaging.
“We shared last year that the values that would drive the transformation of Papa John’s would be equity, fairness, respect and opportunity,” the company said in a statement. “We’re proud to support Bennett College, which not only shares these values but embodies them in their continual pursuit of inquiry, civic engagement, social justice, lifelong learning, and equity for all.”
Bennett is trying to raise more than $5 million by Feb. 1 in hopes of holding onto its accreditation. The college has raised about a third of that amount, according to its website.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges announced in December that it would revoke Bennett’s accreditation over concerns that the private woman’s college didn’t have sufficient financial resources.
Bennett has appealed that decision and remains accredited in the meantime. Colleges must be accredited to accept federal grants and federal student loans as payment for tuition, fees and other expenses.
Bennett’s plight has received statewide and national media attention. The college announced that President Phyllis Worthy Dawkins is scheduled to appear on PoliticsNation, the MSNBC show hosted by the Rev. Al Sharpton, at 5 p.m. Sunday.