Several members of Howard University’s graduating class are thanking God — and the members of Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandra, VA — for a divine donation to their scholarly pursuits. In all, 34 students at the D.C. based HBCU were awarded a total of $100,000 dollars.
According to The Washington Post, the students in receipt of the funds had to be enrolled at the university full time, have a grade point average of 2.0 or higher, and demonstrate a financial need. The balances for the students ranged anywhere from $100 to over $3,000. Students were made aware of the financial gift through an email that promised an amazing opportunity if they came to the Office of Financial Aid to learn about it.
The large pool of money was raised by members of the congregation who participated in a church-wide fast in January. In addition to giving up certain vices like sweets and social media, leaders also asked members to restrict their spending to essential buys. As NPR reported, after the financial fast was over, members were asked to donate the money they saved. They didn’t know where the money would end up but knew that it would go back into the community.
In all, the church raised $150,000. The additional $50,000 collected went to assist Bennet College in North Carolina who was seeking $5 million dollars for a campaign aimed at keeping their accreditation. NPR notes that the congregation at Alfred Street Baptist has a large number of HBCU graduates who attend services.
Assistant minister Marc Lavarin, who presides over the church’s young adult and online ministries said of the donation, “We believe that it’s the role of the church, especially those historically black congregations, to continue to support our historically black colleges and universities — especially considering we have played such a role in their conception and founding.”