By Karley Chilombo
TORRANCE, CA PRNewswire — At the end of March, nearly 250 students and coaches from 48 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) were set to travel to California to compete for the national championship title in the 31st annual Honda Campus All-Star Challenge (HCASC), America’s premier academic competition for HBCUs. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Honda made the difficult decision to cancel the HCASC National Championship Tournament for 2020, reallocating funds from the program to partner with HBCUs and support their local communities.
Honda has joined together with 58 HBCUs—including the 48 HBCUs that would have competed in the HCASC National Championship Tournament—on a COVID-19 relief initiative to address immediate needs within their communities. With funds redirected from the 2020 HCASC program, the HBCUs have made donations to charitable organizations in their local communities that address key needs including food insecurity and medical support for families, senior citizens, and the homeless. The donations also have funded medical supplies and personal protective equipment for frontline healthcare workers in HBCU communities. Since May 1, Honda has provided a total of $325,000 to HBCUs, in turn helping them serve 108 organizations in 20 states.
“In these unprecedented times, our commitment to HBCUs is stronger than ever,” said Steve Morikawa, vice president of Corporate Relations and Social Responsibility at American Honda. “We know that recent events have presented challenges for HBCU communities, and we’re working closely with HBCU presidents and local leaders on ways to best serve their communities.”
Addressing Food Insecurity and Health Concerns
Here’s a look at how the funds from Honda are supporting HBCU communities, as told from the perspectives of HBCU students, presidents and institutional representatives:
“The Florida A&M University-Bond Community Health Center COVID-19 Test Site is responsible for over 10,500 tests taken since April 25. Thanks to the generous contributions from Honda and other supporters, we have been able to provide meals for university and community volunteers who contribute to the site’s operation. With the support of Florida Department of Health, other state and municipal partners, this site is open to everyone; however, its location in an African America community provides access to individuals adversely impacted by the virus.” – Dr. Larry Robinson, Florida A&M University president
“No student should have to worry about hunger. The allocation of Honda’s grant to our campus food pantry, The Store@HU, will allow hundreds of students to focus on their education instead of worrying about a basic need. This boost of support for students is much appreciated in light of our extraordinary circumstances.” – Jess Agyepong, Howard University senior and HCASC team captain
“Livingstone College is grateful in its efforts to provide relief to the Rowan-Salisbury community through the benevolent support of Honda. Considering our city’s vulnerable populations, Livingstone College designated Meals on Wheels of Rowan, Inc., an organization that provides nourishment and wellness checks to elderly and disabled populations, and the Terrie Hess House, a nationally-accredited child advocacy center committed to bringing awareness and stopping child abuse, to be recipients of the assistance grants. As these are critical times in our world where many are unable to give, Livingstone College is appreciative to be of service and in partnership with a dream maker.” – Da’Tarvia Parrish, associate professor of History and Political Science, campus coordinator and HCASC coach, Livingstone College.
“Paine College is pleased to have had the opportunity to give back to the Augusta, Georgia community through the grant funds made available by American Honda to the ‘Great 48’ HBCUs that were scheduled to compete in the 2020 Honda Campus All-Star Challenge National Championship Tournament. Recognizing the need to address food insecurity, especially during this pandemic, the contribution to the Golden Harvest Food Bank was a good choice and the College was delighted to be able to assist.” – Dr. Cheryl Evans Jones, Paine College president
“We want to thank Honda for their continued support of HBCUs. Prairie View was able to use the funds to support non-profit community-based organizations that were financially devastated by the pandemic. These organizations provide vital resources and services to the community and we were thrilled to partner with Honda to be of assistance.” – Ruth J. Simmons, Prairie View A&M University president