Jackson State University needs community votes to win Retool Your School grant

JACKSON, Miss –Jackson State University is aiming to secure up to $150,000 in a campus-improvement grant sponsored by Home Depot’s annual Retool Your School program.

Founded by Home Depot in 2009, Retool Your School is designed to  help historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) all around the country. It is no secret that HBCUs are systematically underfunded compared to predominantly white institutions (PWIs). Home Depot’s Retool Your School works to combat this by giving funding to HBCUs for campus improvements and upgrades. 

Senior  journalism and media studies major Tianna Williams expressed how she thinks Home Depot’s Retool Your School is a big opportunity for HBCUs. “I like that it’s interactive. They give the schools free creative range to advertise and promote however they like, while they provide the media kit, rules and regulations, so it’s easy to understand,” said Williams, who is also a marketing intern for JSU University Communications. 

Jackson State is a five-time recipient of the Retool Your School grant as follows: 

  • 2018: 1st Place ($50,000)
  • 2019: 3rd Place ($50,000)
  • 2020: 2nd Place ($50,000)
  • 2021: 2nd Place ($50,000)
  • 2022: 3rd Place ($40,000)

JSU has used previous award funds to update and refresh paint and lighting in residence halls, redesign its commuter lounge and create outdoor multi-purpose study spaces for students. 

Retool Your School partners with JSU’s Center for Community Engagement to give students community service hours for helping with Retool Your School projects. “I definitely feel like it contributes to the family dynamic around campus,” Williams said. 

She pointed out that she has seen students spend their time there socializing, eating, and doing homework in the lounge areas, which also have chargers and speakers built into them.

Retool Your School also offers opportunities for scholarships, a campus improvement grant, an innovation lounge grant, and a community project grant. JSU Director of Community Engagement Dr. Heather Denne said that the school also  plans to apply for the community project grant. 

“We’re excited because Home Depot recognizes that HBCUs are in urban areas primarily and that they can have an impact in the way the community looks and feels. By them providing this additional grant funding, it will not only improve the image of JSU, but it will enhance our community, and that’s what we’re all about,” she said.

Jackson State has a chance to win again. Online voting has begun. Students can vote on the Retool Your School website or via social media when they use the #RYSJackson on posts and tweets. Votes are cumulative and will be combined after voting is closed. Every time the hashtag is used, it counts as one vote. All students, faculty/staff, alumni, and JSU supporters are encouraged to participate. Voting will be open for one month and will close on Sunday, Mar. 26, at midnight.

“I appreciate everyone for their tireless voting efforts. I really enjoy this grant because it’s based on votes. If you have people voting, you’re going to win, and fortunately, Jackson State has a great support system from the community, alumni, faculty/staff, and our students that vote every single year. We’re very appreciative of that, and really grateful for their support in this project,” Denne said.

Retool Your School also provides externships, resume and internship workshops. More information regarding these programs can be found at https://retoolyourschool.com/faq/.

***This story was prepared by Arnisha Baker, JSU public relations intern.***