Roland Martin (File Photo)

Roland S. Martin, host and managing editor of TV One’s News One Now, has created the fundraising initiative, #HBCUGivingDay, a national call to action in support of raising funds for historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).  Recently, Martin represented a different historically black college and university by wearing a lapel pin and then posting the photo on social media using the hashtag, #HBCUGivingDay.

On May 25, Martin interviewed Lt. Col. Gregory L. Clark, president of the Florida A&M University National Alumni Association (FAMUNAA), about the importance of donating money to support scholarships and research at institutions geared toward the education of minorities and first generation students. Around 70 percent of all HBCU students rely on federal grants and work study programs to finance their education.

“We have an obligation to give. HBCU’s take us in, give us an education and send us out into the world,” said Clark, who reported that the association is working to increase FAMU’s 5 percent alumni giving rate. “The giving rates have got to be up…that’s going to help us drive in those corporate dollars and it’s going to show the corporations that we do care about our institutions.”

The next day, Martin declared on Twitter, “I’m not interested any longer in saying why we don’t give to HBCUs. Just do it,” and started using the hashtag #HBCUGivingDay.

Since that day, Martin has worn lapel pins while hosting News One Now to highlight giving in support of Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis, Missouri, Grambling State University in Grambling, Louisiana, Virginia State University in Petersburg, Virginia, and Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia.  According to the Pew Research Center, there are more than 100 historically black colleges and universities in the United States. In 2016, it was reported that several HBCU’s saw an uptick in freshman class enrollment, including Dillard University, Tuskegee University, and Shaw University, which nearly doubled.

During a recent interview with The Breakfast Club, Martin challenged everyone to adopt an HBCU, whether they attended one or not. He explained that too often people get overwhelmed by the size of the gift and forget that multiple small gifts can be just as impactful.

“We can’t rely on public dollars to save our institutions. When the foundation says, ‘What’s the giving of your graduates?’ and they say ‘Only 3 percent of our graduates give.’ A foundation goes, ‘You’re asking me to give you $10 million but only 3 percent of your graduates are giving?’ That means 97 percent [of graduates] are not even sending a dollar back,” said Martin. “For me, we have to be about saving our institutions, building our institutions, and strengthening our institutions, whether it’s our civil rights groups, whether it’s our HBCUs, or whether it’s our economic groups.”