While celebrating its 150th anniversary, Tougaloo College used the 31st Annual Business Luncheon as a platform to officially announce the “Sesquicentennial Campaign for Scholarships,” an important fundraising initiative to raise $10 million over the next two years for deserving students. Serving as a major forum for information exchange between the College and the business community on Friday, February 22nd, the luncheon afforded Tougaloo an opportunity to honor partners who have shared their time and resources to advance its mission.  The Genevieve McMillan-Stewart Foundation and C Spire Foundation were inducted into the Tougaloo College Society of Corporate Philanthropists.

Partners like BankPlus, Trustmark, the Jackson Tougaloo College Area Alumni Chapter and the Petters Family Foundation presented checks in support of the scholarship campaign.  Afterward, scholarship recipients had the opportunity to personally thank and interact with alumni and business partners who have invested in their future. The luncheon is one platform among many being employed to engage alumni, friends and other business partners in investing in this meaningful campaign to directly benefit students.

Business Luncheon speaker, Mike Petters, President and CEO of Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII), America's largest military shipbuilding company and a provider of manufacturing, engineering and management services to nuclear energy, oil and gas markets, opened his remarks connecting workforce development to early childhood education for building a stronger state and nation.  From the perspective of a CEO in search of qualified and intelligent employees, “By ensuring pre-k education is available for all Americans, instead of currently having an applicant pool of about 25% of the US population qualified for employment with a fortune 400 company like HII, a greater percentage of the workforce could actually be employable,” he said.  Petters highlighted the need for US educational institutions to become more intentional to train global leaders who can compete with students from other countries who are receiving more direct and deliberate education from an earlier age.

With Tougaloo’s legacy as a teacher training school, Petters said he believes connecting workforce development with early childhood education makes sense from the perspective of preparing students to become part of Tougaloo’s incoming classes to help sustain another 150 years of academic excellence.  Just as the Petters Family Foundation is investing in college education for Tougaloo students, Petters said, “We strongly believe we [Huntington Ingalls Industries] must do more to invest in the beginning of the workforce development pipeline.”

Like early childhood education is necessary for a more robust pool of workforce candidates, “The ‘Sesquicentennial Campaign for Scholarships’ is a vital step in positioning the College for continued growth and to ensure its future as a viable, competitive, attractive place for twenty-first century learners,” said President Beverly W. Hogan. The College must be able to attract and recruit the highest caliber of students with academic scholarships and the campaign is an opportunity to engage all of our stakeholders.

As President Hogan spoke about raising scholarship dollars during the luncheon, she extended a personal invitation to the attendees to join her at the Sesquicentennial Two Rivers Gala | Tougaloo Honors at the Jackson Convention Complex on May 18, 2019, featuring R&B group and Rock & Roll Hall of Famers, “The O’Jays.” The Gala is another opportunity to raise scholarship dollars for students. This year’s gala will celebrate the legacies of Tougaloo College and President Hogan, who will retire June 30, 2019.

Learn how you may positively impact the life of a Tougaloo College student with your donation to the “Sesquicentennial Campaign for Scholarships.” Contact the Office of Institutional Development at 601-977-7871 for campaign and gala sponsorship information. Give right now by texting “REALWORLDIMPACT” to 71777.