In 2004, the Claflin University Board of Visitors established FOCUS100 Scholarships to provide modest grants to assist students who have trouble managing the costs of their tuition, fees or books.
FOCUS100 Scholarships cover small financial shortfalls that can lead students to withdraw from school. Since the program's creation, the university has used it to make awards ranging from $300 to $1,000 to more than 1,800 students.
In 2017, Dr. Henry N. Tisdale, the eighth president of Claflin University, issued a five-year challenge to the board of visitors: to raise $1 million for FOCUS100 scholarships.
The members accepted the challenge and raised $350,000 by 2018. However, after the announcement that he would retire on June 30, 2019, Tisdale urged the board of visitors to accelerate their efforts and finish the campaign at the end of his presidency.
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"When Dr. Tisdale asked us to wrap up the campaign more than two years ahead of schedule, we immediately agreed," said Thelma Hudson, who chairs the board of visitors.
"We may not have known exactly how we were going to get it done, but we knew something more important. All of us knew that the leadership Dr. Tisdale has provided over the past 25 years has put the university in an excellent place. There's just no way any of us would have declined his request,” she said.
On July 17, 2019, the Claflin University Board of Visitors completed its challenge to raise $1 million for FOCUS100 Scholarships.
Since 2017, approximately 1,400 donors supported the Special Gifts Campaign for FOCUS100 Scholarships, with donors contributing, on average, $714 each.
"During the 2018-2019 academic year, I was blessed to receive a FOCUS100 scholarship. I was struggling to figure out how I was going to pay the remaining balance on my account and started to become discouraged. I am beyond grateful to have received the scholarship," said Kyndal Broadway. She plans to graduate in May 2020 and will enroll in a teaching residency program through Urban Teachers, Mastery Charter Schools, or KIPP.