Contributed by Milton Steppe of SteppeMedia
Recently, I took a trip by boat with a group of community leaders to visit the wind farm currently under construction by Dominion Energy, just off the coast near Virginia Beach. The wind farm is an amazing engineering and architectural wonder, with turbines standing over 500 feet tall. When completed thousands of homes will have a new source of energy.
The tour itself lasted about five hours, which allowed the opportunity to engage with the other attendees and Dominion Energy staff in conversations that literally covered a bit of everything. Through our discussions, I learned that Dominion was also focusing on sustainability back on the mainland by contributing $35 million dollars to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) through its six-year“HBCU Promise” program.
HBCUs make up approximately three percent of all colleges and universities in the United States, while enrolling ten percent of all African American students and producing nearly twenty percent of all African American graduates. But most face financial hurdles along the way, with seventy-two percent taking on debt as they work and fight to complete their degrees.
HBCUs also have a proven track record for setting students up for success. AN HBCU graduate can expect to earn an additional $927,000 in their lifetime–which is 56 percent more than they would without an HBCU degree or certificate–and eight HBCUs were among the top twenty institutions to award the most science and engineering bachelors degrees between 2008-2012. Dominion’s HBCU Promise program is a substantial investment into the lives of black people and black institutions, with $25 million in funding being provided to select universities in Virginia, Ohio, North Carolina and South Carolina, and an additional $10 million scholarship fund that will support African American and other minority students across the company’s service territory. Dominion Energy’s contribution is a major investment not only for the long-term sustainability of HBCUs, but also for generating greater opportunity for black and other minority students to pursue the American dream through quality higher education accessibility.