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August 25, 2020

Columbia, S.C. — In its latest demonstration of community investment and corporate citizenship, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina is committing funding to the state’s five, private four-year Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to 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. Those schools are Allen University and Benedict College, both in Columbia; Claflin University in Orangeburg; Morris College in Sumter; and, Voorhees College in Denmark.

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 these 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 dollars to upgrade their I/T network security and bandwidth. They 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 receive 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.

As COVID has challenged schools across the country, HBCUs are at unique risk because these private colleges receive little to no state support and distance learning is complicated because many students live in areas where there is not high-speed internet service nor do they have computers. 

Enrollment demographics show HBCU students are primarily African American. Most students are low-income and more than half of them are the first in their families to attend college.

In addition, more than 95 percent receive some form of financial aid. 

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. He said, “It has been well reported that the coronavirus revealed our minority communities encounter profound disparities in many ways. 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.

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