Florida A&M University is leading Home Depot’s 2016 Retool Your School Campus Involvement grant program in the first cluster with a total of 480,487 votes with Texas Southern University trailing at 305,464 votes.
The program is in its seventh year with one of the world’s largest home improvement domain retailer that uses the program to offer Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) the opportunity to apply for grants that offer viable renovations to their campuses.
According to retoolyourschool.com, the total winnings for the program has increased to $300,000 in grants for nine accredited HBCUs.
The schools have been categorized based on their student population in one of the three clusters.
Each of the clusters will have three winners competing for a $50K, $30K and $20K grant.
The first cluster will include schools with student enrollment of 4,000 or more; the second cluster will have student enrollment of 3,999 to 1,201 and the third cluster will have 1,200 students or less.
Darian Graham, first-year pharmacy candidate from Miami, said in order for FAMU to win students need to vote for their school.
“I think FAMU has to stress the importance of winning this competition to its students in order to win this competition,” Graham said. “If the students know the importance of winning this competition, then they would be more likely to vote for their school.”
All votes received on the RetoolYourSchool website will be combined with the school's social media votes to determine the final online voting score.
Social media votes are defined as those votes that use the school’s inimitable designated hashtag on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Graham stated that the FAMU_RYS16 hashtag has played a key role in FAMU's effort in winning the competition and that it gets students involved in voting for their school through social media.
The social media voting is very crucial to this competition because nearly all students having some sort of social media account making it easier for students to vote because they can do it right through their fingertips as many times as they can.
“The hashtag has been useful because not only can our school get involved but everybody else including alumni can help us win as well,” said Alex Moore, second-year sociology major.
This year for the first time, the qualifying schools that submitted their applications but did not win and received at least 100 votes, will receive 1,000 Home Depot gift cards.
The online voting started Feb. 26 and will continue until April. 24. The winners will be announced May.18 in Atlanta, Ga.