FAMU competes for funding among HBCUs

Florida A&M is competing again in the fourth annual Retool Your School competition sponsored by The Home Depot. Retool Your School is a competition among historically black colleges and universities.

Samantha Johannes, a sophomore pre-physical therapy student and sales representative at The Home Depot, said the competition is both beneficial to the universitys aesthetics and the companys image.

I feel like The Home Depot is doing something that is very positive and beneficial for HBCUs, Johannes said. It makes me look at the company in a different way.

Currently, FAMU is trailing behind 14 other schools with nearly 7,300 votes, according to the competitions website. Oakwood University leads all HBCUs with more than 84,000 votes. Rival school Bethune-Cookman University is currently in ninth place with more than twice as many votes as FAMU.

According to Agenika Lattery, a second-year pharmacy student from Jacksonville, Fla., the site is too difficult to navigate, and it detours her from voting.

You have to enter the security letter code each time you submit a vote, Lattery said. Its time-consuming and frustrating if you get the letters wrong.

Each year, participating schools submit proposals to win up to $50,000. According to the programs press release, the grants, which total $195,000, consist of two tiers. The first tier is worth $50,000, and the second tier, which will be granted to 12 different schools, is worth $10,000. A campus pride grant was added to the program in 2011.

The school that receives the most online votes and has the most social media participation will win this grant.

Some students, such as Sade Watkins, a senior African-American studies student from Jacksonville, feel participating in the contest would be an easy way to contribute to the well being of the university.

I think Retool Your School is an excellent opportunity for students to give back to FAMU just by clicking vote, Watkins said.

Other students, such TeAundra Peterson, a freshman criminal justice student from Tallahassee, dont see the importance of participating in the competition.

I see the links everywhere, Peterson said. I just dont click on them. I dont know, maybe they just dont appeal to me.

In 2010, FAMU won a grant in the annual competition for sustainable campus renovations, which assisted in the creation of its first Green Space. In 2011, the school won a $10,000 grant for continuing campus improvements. The winnings went toward improvements of the New Beginnings Child Development Center. The center installed outdoor lighting, made interior building repairs and expanded its outdoor learning area.

According to the University Advancement, FAMUs $50,000 proposal is to upgrade restrooms on all the floors of the Banneker Computer Science Complex and Jackson Davis Hall to meet ADA accessibility codes. The upgrade will include new washroom equipment, stalls, water-saving devices and new push-plate door operators.

Jessica Martin, a FAMU alumna, said, I try to go online every day and vote whenever FAMU participates in this competition.

Students can vote for FAMU at www.retoolyourschool.com/vote-now.aspxuntil 11:59 p.m. April 15.