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Paine College trying to win $50,000 as part of Home Depot program

March 1, 2020

Paine College is asking the Augusta community for help in winning a program that could bring a $50,000 project to the school.

Paine is participating in The Home Depot's annual Retool Your School Grant Program, in which historically black colleges and universities nationwide compete to finish in the top three in their category and receive $50,000 for projects around the school.

Helene Carter, Paine's vice president of institutional advancement, said Home Depot reaches out to every HBCU for the program.

"This could be the thing that really gives us, the students some hope," said Paine junior Maia Newhouse, the chief of staff at Paine's Student Government Association. "I just think with us being the only HBCU in Augusta, why wouldn't the whole city of Augusta or CSRA want to rally behind us and make this happen?"

In 2014, Paine finished in the top three and received a $10,000 grant it used for a grounds-keeping project on campus. Carter said the program is a win-win situation for the schools and Home Depot.

"Although they are giving us $50,000, look at what we are giving them. Home Depot looks mighty good when they can support education and higher education," she said.

Carter said the school is thinking of projects on different parts of campus if it wins, such as a sign near 15th Street and Central Avenue, an outdoor facility with technology for students to use, or even moving a historic bell back to the front of the school. She said said student input will be used if Paine wins any money.

There are three clusters; the schools are categorized according to their student body size. We are in cluster three, so we are in the cluster for schools that have anywhere from one to 1,200 students," Carter said. "If we land in the top three, with the most votes, then we'll be invited to submit our project to them. As long as the project can be implemented using (Home Depot's) resources, building supplies, they will approve it."

Paine is currently in sixth place, which Carter said is disappointing considering it was third at this time last year. In an attempt to increase interest, a pop-up celebration will be held at the Candler Memorial Library Conference Center at 6 p.m. Thursday to encourage people to vote.

Carter said winning could be a huge morale booster for the school.

"That $50,000 can help us position and build something tangible, something that we can see, touch and feel right away," she said.

Votes can be made online or by tweeting or posting on Instagram the hashtag, #Paine_RYS20, with votes on Twitter and Instagram counting double. Voting is open until April 5.

"If we don't end up in the top three, it's a wrap, it's a done deal," Carter said. "We are No. 6 now. We got to move up."

This article was posted on the Augusta Chronicle website.

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