Mississippi Valley State University is the Tom Joyner Foundation’s School of the Month for August.

The mission of the foundation founded by the radio host is to provide national programming initiatives and partnerships to raise scholarships and promote historically black colleges and universities, said Neil Foote, media relations manager at the Tom Joyner Foundation.

“Over the course of 18 years, the goal has been to make sure that HBCUs have a chance to be apart. We want to provide capacity building for black colleges and help students to stay in school,” Foote said.

Tom Joyner and his team evaluates each HBCU and selects a mixture of universities to feature depending on their specific needs and how they may benefit from the partnership, Foote added.

The School of the Month program annually selects 11 historically black institutions to feature. During the month of each partnership, the Tom Joyner Foundation will raise funds for student scholarships and programming initiatives to promote that particular historically black college or university.

“This gives us one dedicated month to really tell our story and to let people know of the great things going on at our institution,” said Dameon Shaw, interim vice president of University Advancement at MVSU.

During the month of August, the Tom Joyner Foundation will prompt donations for MVSU through its national platform which includes the foundation website, social media and radio stations that carry Joyner’s program. One hundred percent of the donations will be given to the university as private scholarship dollars to be awarded to qualified recipients in Fall 2017, Foote said.

Each Thursday during August, Joyner also will announce on his radio station a different Hercules Scholar. Named in honor of Joyner’s father, Hercules Joyner, students selected for the scholarship must be male, enrolled as full time student and have a grade point average of 3.5 or higher. The scholarship is valued at $1,500.

“Our hope is to raise awareness about Mississippi Valley State University and all their great programs,” said Foote.

For example, the foundation announced Valley’s Department of Mass Communications’ new Convergent Journalism Master’s program, which begins this fall. MVSU is the tenth institution in the nation to offer such a program. This two-year program focuses on the emerging trend in journalism that involves the convergence of broadcast, print, photography and internet sites.

Dr. Samuel Osunde, Mass Communications department chair at MVSU
Dr. Samuel Osunde, Chair of Mass Communications at MVSU Credit: MVSU

“We want people to reap the benefits of what’s going on (in Mississippi). We want to expand it, where you don’t only get students from Mississippi but you get students from all over the country. When they finish, we hope to keep them here,” said Dr. Samuel Osunde, Chair of Mass Communications at MVSU.

Many smaller institutions are challenged in terms of limited resources for outreach and the recruitment of prospective students. For that reason, Shaw said, MVSU has faced a challenge in trying to reach students across the nation.

“This will be beneficial in recruitment for the university. This is a nationally syndicated radio show, so this will reach students that we couldn’t possibly even fathom reaching with the resources of our admissions department,” said Shaw.

After August, MVSU will continue to be partnered with the Tom Joyner Foundation for the remainder of the year.

“We hope others will contribute and build excitement for the donors to support the university throughout the years,” said Foote.

Check here for more information on what’s going on at MVSU and how to donate through the Joyner Foundation.

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Ashley F. G. Norwood, a native of Jackson, earned a bachelor's degree in English from Jackson State University and a master’s degree from the Meek School of Journalism at the University of Mississippi. Norwood, who specializes in multimedia journalism, has been recognized nationally for her documentary film the fly in the buttermilk, which covers the history, perceptions and principles of black Greek-lettered organizations at the University of Mississippi.