A dedicated group of Atlanta-based Alpha Kappa Alphas is working to preserve the legacy of historically Black colleges. 

For the last 32 years, the Pearls of Purpose Foundation part of the Nu Lambda Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., have given Atlanta-area high school students college scholarships.

About a week ago, the foundation also awarded $31,000 in scholarships at its yearly Pink Pearl Mother-Daughter Luncheon. While the organization’s charitable works continue to help many, the storied sorority has made preserving HBCUs for future generations a top priority, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) reports. 

Valencia Bean is one of the members of the Pearls of Purpose Foundation. She told the AJC that alumni and members of the Divine Nine student organizations can help keep HBCUs alive. There is no secret that historic Black colleges around the country are struggling to keep their doors open. The AKAs are hoping to assist in this preservation with the launch of the HBCU for Life campaign. 

“Supporting HBCUs is something that we all could benefit from, and that’s the part that we miss,” Bean said. “These schools are there for people, period. Their doors are opened to anyone who wants to matriculate. Take your kids to visit an HBCU. Try them.”

The HBCU for Life campaign was spearheaded by Glenda Glover, the international president of AKA and president of Tennessee State University. Recently, under her direction, the campaign raised approximately $1.2 million with small-dollar donations. 

Even with these efforts, HBCUs are losing their accreditation and dealing with financial issues most predominantly white schools are not. 

Democratic presidential candidates Sens. Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren addressed these concerns. Harris, a graduate of Howard University and AKA, will lean on her time at an HBCU to woo Black voters.

As one of the crucial pillars of her platform, she will introduce new funding that would add $315 billion to Black colleges over a decade. Her campaign promised salary increases for teachers along with new training and support for recruitment. Booker has proposed similar commitments in the Senate. But HBCU students and grads must wait until the outcome of the 2020 election to put their faith behind either platform. 

Bean and others realize they must act now. The AKAs will continue fundraising and have a fundraiser set for September called the Community Impact Day where they hope to raise $100,000.

“If we don’t save our colleges, who will?” she asked.

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