By Todd Cohen
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Spurred by a group of Winston-Salem congregations, black-churches throughout North Carolina have launched a five-year drive to raise $1 million each for 11 historically black universities in the state.
The churches have teamed up with the Matah Business Network, a New Jersey-based maker and distributor of home-care, personal-care and hair-care products that will give rebates to churches and black schools in return for the purchase of its products by church members.
Individual churches will be asked to make pledges to the drive based on estimates of purchases their members will make, says the Rev. Carlton A.G. Eversley, executive director of the newly formed North Carolina Black Churches for North Carolina Black Colleges and Universities.
With Durham-based Mechanics & Farmers Bank acting as fiscal agent, Matah will provide rebates that will be divvied up among the schools and churches
Eversley, pastor of Dellabrook Presbyterian Church in Winston-Salem, says the idea for the drive grew out of discussions by the Ministers Conference of Winston-Salem, a predominantly black ecumenical group that meets every week and is headed by the Rev. John Mendez, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Winston-Salem.
The drive is based on a suggestion by the Rev. William S. Fails, pastor of Greater First United Baptist Church in High Point, and modeled on an effort by the Charlotte-based North Carolina office of the United Negro College Fund to raise $1 million over 10 years through contributions from Charlotte-area churches.
By tying rebates to purchases, Eversley says, black churches can boost financially and budget-strapped black schools such as Bennett College and N.C. A&T State University, both in Greensboro, and Winston-Salem State University with “new money, money that’s not being taken out of the church coffers.”
David Hoard, vice chancellor for development and university relations at A&T, has organized his colleagues at the other historically black universities in the state to act as informal advisers to the new drive.
The drive already has secured commitments from the black caucuses of the Salem Presbytery and of the Seventh Day Adventist Church.