Annual Retool Your School Program Returns to Benefit HBCU Campuses

Last Updated on February 14, 2016

The Home Depot's Retool Your School team installs improvements on the campus of Claflin University.
The Home Depot's Retool Your School team installs landscaping upgrades at Claflin University.

On Wednesday, February 3rd, The Home Depot reaffirmed its commitment to HBCUs by announcing its 2016 Retool Your School Campus Improvement Grant Program. Now in its seventh year, the world’s largest home improvement specialty retailer utilizes the program to offer Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) the opportunity to apply for grants that provide sustainable renovations to their campuses.

This year, the total winnings for the Retool Your School program have increased to $300,000 in grants for nine accredited HBCUs. The schools will be categorized in one of three clusters, based on student population. Each cluster will have three winners vying for one $50,000, one $30,000 and one $20,000 grant. The breakdown will be as follows: Cluster 1 will be based on schools with student enrollment of 4,000 or more; Cluster 2 will be based on schools with student enrollment of 3,999–1,251 students; and Cluster 3 will include schools with 1,250 students or less.

This year, for the first time, the non-winning qualified schools who submit their applications and receive a minimum of 100 votes, will receive a $1,000 Home Depot gift card. To be considered, the HBCUs must submit a complete application by February 22, 2016. Online voting will take place from February 26 to April 24, 2016 at The winners will be announced on May 18, 2016, in Atlanta.

The Home Depot’s Retool Your School Program was established in 2010 to provide support for campus improvement projects to the nation’s HBCUs. Since the program’s inception, over one million dollars in grant money has been awarded. Last year, the Retool Your School Program was recognized in Washington, DC, by the White House Initiative on HBCUs during the National Historically Black Colleges and Universities Week. The Home Depot’s Melissa Brown, Senior Marketing Manager, was featured as a guest panelist during the week where other attendees included Vice President Joe Biden and former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “Retool Your School is a valuable program,” said Dr. Ivory Toldson, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. “I know of no other program that focuses on sustaining our colleges by maintaining the physical space. This program provides very important funding that beautifies and enhances the physical needs of our HBCUs.”

“Excitement builds each year for The Home Depot Retool Your School program,” says Melissa Brown. “Each year, we continue to find ways to make it exciting for HBCUs to participate. Last year, we launched a new grant structure that allowed more HBCUs to participate and to feel comfortable competing among their fellow HBCUs within their student population range. This year, not only have we increased the total amount to $300,000, The Home Depot is offering a $1,000 participation award for qualifying entries.”

Retool Your School Voting Period

During the online voting period, HBCU supporters can cast one vote per day for their favorite HBCU project. Following the online vote, a panel of distinguished judges will also evaluate each school’s project proposals within the qualifying brackets. Judges will consider the depth of each proposal and the school’s ability to execute the project within the specified budgets. Proposals for all three grants must highlight how each project will make a lasting, positive impact on the HBCU campus.

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