The Seventh-day Adventist Church’s only historically black university is in the running for a US$50,000 grant from an online contest sponsored by a chain of home improvement stores in the United States.
Huntsville, Alabama-based Oakwood University is one of the smallest and the only Adventist school participating in Home Depot’s “Retool Your School” contest for Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Home Depot Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the company, will award 12 Tier II $10,000 grants, one $50,000 Tier I Grant and a $25,000 Campus Pride Grant based on social media activity.
Oakwood is currently in first place out of 75 schools with 163,463 votes, followed closely by the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, which has 161,289 votes.
A press release from the university said votes and social media activity for UMES tends to spike Friday night and Saturday, but that Oakwood supporters consistently recapture the top spot after sunset on Saturdays. The Adventist-run university is encouraging voters to observe the seventh-day Sabbath when showing support.
“We’re planning to win this contest—not solely for the money and campus improvements, but even more importantly for the witnessing opportunity of Sabbath observance it gives us, not only with The Home Depot, but with all onlookers,” said Kisha Norris, executive director for Advancement & Development at Oakwood.
Oakwood University is directly affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s world headquarters and has a current enrollment of 1,939 students.
University officials said the Tier I Grant would fund an outdoor pavilion equipped with outdoor kitchen appliances, grills and fireplaces. If the school snags a Tier II Grant instead, plans are in place to insulate the sprinkler system for the softball and football fields and re-seed those fields.
Supporters can vote online once per day until April 15, but can use the hashtag #OakwoodRYS2013 on Twitter and Instagram without limit. Contest winners will be announced in early May, according to the Hope Depot website.
Home Depot Foundation has contributed more than $200 million to charities such as Habitat for Humanity and causes that include medical research, emergency preparedness and playground construction.