COLUMBIA, S.C. (courtesy BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina) — BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina is committing $8 million in multi-year support to Allen University, Benedict College, Claflin University, Morris College, and Voorhees College. These funds will help with immediate financial needs to ensure sustainability and assist in getting as many students as possible to begin or continue their education with these institutions.
The donation is to be allocated based on enrollment levels for specific priorities. Guidelines for funding include focusing on immediate gaps such as technology support. Some of the investment will help the five schools cover operational costs and budget shortfalls. Most funding, however, will support specific priorities identified by the institutions themselves. These priorities will benefit more than 6,300 students and the faculty that serve them.
Technology infrastructures, devices, and hotspots
Allen, Benedict, Claflin, and Morris will use nearly $2 million to upgrade their IT network security and bandwidth. These institutions will also provide laptops and internet service to enhance virtual learning for students and faculty.
eLearning platforms, training, and certification for faculty
Benedict, Claflin, Morris, and Voorhees will apply more than $1 million to ensure their faculty members are equipped and prepared to offer effective virtual instruction.
Tuition‐based scholarships and hardship/emergency relief stipends
All five schools will share a total of nearly $3 million to help students struggling financially to return to school, as well as those who are unable to cover living expenses (books and supplies, meals, etc.).
Health and wellness services
Benedict will use $400,000 to provide nursing and counseling services to its students.
Many students attending HBCUs are the first in their families to attend college and have great financial need. As COVID-19 has challenged schools across the country, HBCUs are at heightened risk because many of their students cannot afford high-speed internet at home or live in areas where high-speed internet is not readily or reliably available. The problem is further exacerbated by the fact that many students do not have access to computers at home.
According to David Pankau, president and CEO of BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, the devastation wreaked by the coronavirus on individuals, families, businesses and communities has been amplified among South Carolina’s vulnerable and minority populations. “It has been well reported that the coronavirus revealed our minority communities encounter profound disparities in many ways,” Pankau said. “At BlueCross, we believe healthy communities are defined not only by access to health care services, but also by the fostering of opportunity that comes from education, employment and the potential for an improved quality of life for everyone.”
About BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina
Headquartered in Columbia, and operating in South Carolina for more than 70 years, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. The only South Carolina-owned and operated health insurance carrier, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina comprises more than 20 companies involved in health insurance services, U.S. DoD health programs and Medicare contracts, other insurance and employee benefits services, and a philanthropic foundation that funds programs to improve health care and access to health care for South Carolinians.