Jackson State Surprised with $100K Gap Emergency Fund Donation on GMA

Last Updated on February 17, 2024

Jackson State University Surprised With $100K Donation from Mars, and SNICKERS on Good Morning America
Jackson State University Chief Communications Officer Alonda Thomas and Director of Public Relations Rachel James-Terry accept a $100,000 check from Mars in support of the JSU Gap Emergency Fund. (JSU Communications / William H. Kelly)

Good Morning America Co-Anchor Michael Strahan traveled to Jackson State University to celebrate Homecoming with the Tigers during a live broadcast of the show. During the broadcast, the University was surprised with the announcement that Mars is donating $100,000 in support of the JSU Gap Emergency Fund.

“America's Historically Black Colleges and Universities like JSU are vital resources in educating an increasingly diverse workforce and the business community can step up to support diversity in higher education…I am extremely proud to call Jackson home where my parents Dr. George and Pearl Vincent taught as JSU professors for 25 years. It is a privilege and an honor to give back to the legacy of JSU through the iconic Mars Snickers brand.”

– Anton Vincent, President of Mars Wrigley, North America

GAP is a fundraising campaign with a goal to raise $2.5 million annually for student scholarships and emergency expenses. During the 2017- 2018 academic year, 663 students needed and received GAP assistance. The University awards financial assistance through private support, including endowments and annual scholarships. However, since that time funding has become even more limited. Without additional support, many students’ academic careers will be derailed or delayed. Their matriculation will also be extended beyond four years thus increasing their debt due to the rising cost of attendance.

Director of Public Relations Rachel James-Terry and Chief Communications Officer Alonda Thomas accepted the check on behalf of the University.

There are a lot of students that have financial need when it comes to paying for college. Just a little bit of money can help ensure that they can stay in school, and that's what this money is going to go towards. Thank you to Mars and Snickers for this generous gift”

– Alonda Thomas, JSU Chief Communications Officer

Coach Deion Sanders, appearing with student athletes Travis Hunter and Shedeur Sanders, discussed his mission to not only train student athletes, but to guide boys into becoming men.

“Oftentimes these young men come in with all types of histories and a lot of them are un-fathered, and we've got to build them and mold them and shape them so they're men…So you may send me a boy, but through the trials and tribulations and the teachings, we're going to send you back a man.”

– Coach Deion Sanders

During the show the Sonic Boom of the South, the Prancing J-Settes, the JSU Cheerleaders and students helped Strahan kick-off the morning on a spirited note. Senior student Marvin Meda was prepared to talk about his experiences serving as the first Latino head drum major for the marching band when the subject flipped to him specifically.

“Marvin is an outstanding student. He has been met with a lot of challenges, but he has definitely met those challenges head on in stride and the future is very bright for that young man”

– Roderick Little, Ph.D., JSU Director of Bands

Good Morning America surprised Meda by bringing his mother, Blanca Nieves Meda; brother Kevin Garcia Meda, and former high school band director Carlton Williams to town all the way from Dallas, Texas for the occasion.

“Seeing how Marvin was passionate about the band – not just his own section, but the whole band, that's what put our eyes on him as being leadership material,” said Williams. “We're just so proud of him.”

About Gap Emergency Fund 

The JSU Gap Emergency Fund was created to help students who face a financial gap after all financial aid and scholarship awards have been applied towards tuition. The program is also designed to provide financial support to students for emergency expenses, such as unexpected illness and accidents and economic hardships. Developed through the Division of Institutional Advancement Major and Planned Gifts Unit, the fund is managed with the assistance of the Office of Financial Aid, Student Affairs, Admissions and the Jackson State University Development Foundation.

About Jackson State University

Jackson State University, founded in 1877, is a historically black, high research activity university located in Jackson, the capital city of Mississippi. Jackson State's nurturing academic environment challenges individuals to change lives through teaching, research and service. Officially designated as Mississippi's Urban University, Jackson State continues to enhance the state, nation and world through comprehensive economic development, healthcare, technological and educational initiatives. The only public university in the Jackson metropolitan area, Jackson State is located near downtown, with five satellite locations throughout the area. For more information, visit www.jsums.edu.

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