The long-term partnership between Tennessee State University and the Nashville Predators derived from a "deeply personal place" for the organizations' leaders, TSU President Glenda Glover and Preds President and CEO Sean Henry.
Speaking at a press conference to announce the $1 Million in 1 Month Campaign on Thursday, Henry and Glover both recalled how close they were to dropping out of school. Their crisis wasn't because of a diminishing desire for education, instead, the issue was simply a lack of dollars and cents. Enter the $1 Million in 1 Month Campaign, an initiative to raise financial aid for TSU students, who need that small boost to continue their path toward being society's next group of leaders.
"When someone says a [student's] going to leave school over less than $2,000, and you can step in and make a difference… It's easy to help," Henry said. "We get a chance to pay that forward a little bit. It's tough when you're making that decision, even when you conquer that first financial hurdle. Should you stay in? What's next? And I think I'm really excited about our partnership. To link the dollars - again, that's easy. We can elevate the discussion on our broadcast and over the next few weeks, but even bigger than that, the legacy that we're going to leave is locking arms. We're bringing kids through our building, give them great work opportunities, and most importantly, opportunity when they graduate."
The group isn't stopping at just fundraising. As Henry said, only giving money can be the easy part. It's the following steps of nurture and care that can be the most difficult. That's why the Preds and TSU's partnership will stretch over multiple years and also involve internships and employment opportunities within the two organizations.
"This is bigger than $1 million in a month," Henry said. "That's why our pledge is this year and next year. There's not even a next year planned yet, but there has to be. That's what we're a part of. The ongoing benefit is going to be bringing 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 interns a year through our doors, [give them] a great work experience, let them earn credit, let them get exposure to us, us to them. And when that opportunity arises, that's who you hire."
The news comes at the start of the Predators' celebration of Hockey is for Everyone Month and Black History Month, but without the personal convictions of Henry and Glover, the calendar flipping to February wouldn't mean nearly as much as it will now.
Ways To Give:
Text to give: TSU1MIL to 41444
Phone: 615-963-5481 (TSU Foundation)
Mail: TSU Foundation, 3500 John A. Merritt Blvd., Nashville, TN
Details on the Partnership:
Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover and Nashville Predators President and CEO Sean Henry announced on Jan. 30, 2020, a long-term partnership beginning with the launch of the "$1 Million in 1 Month" campaign - a historic, first-of-its-kind fundraising goal that will combine TSU's passion for education with the best fans in sports during Black History Month.
In a commitment to helping foster the education of many Tennessee State students, the Predators organization made the first donation to the campaign, as well as an additional $100,000 of in-kind assets to help spread awareness to the initiative.
Money raised from the campaign will go directly to a scholarship fund benefiting Tennessee State University students in a city-wide effort to help local scholars remain in school and pursue collegiate degrees.
"With the help of the most passionate fan base in all of sports and the Nashville Predators organization, we are proud to partner with Tennessee State University on this life-changing education initiative," Henry said. "When you combine two great things - the education of the next generation with our passionate fan base, we know that strong goals seem to be more achievable, and that's what we are hoping to do with this campaign."
This one-month campaign will be the first of many initiatives between Tennessee State University and the Predators, as both organizations strive to make Smashville a better place to work, live, learn and play.
"Tennessee State University is proud to launch this campaign to give students access to the funds they need to stay in school, graduate and achieve their dreams," Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover said. "Many students are not able to complete their degrees because of financial hardship, so these funds are very important. We're excited to have the support of the Predators, and we look forward to contributions from our alumni, friends, and the community to support these TSU students, our leaders of tomorrow."
Thursday's announcement was the beginning of a long-term partnership between TSU and the Predators. The Predators also announced that their Saturday, Feb. 1 home game against the Vegas Golden Knights will celebrate the HBCU and Hockey Is For Everyone month as part of "TSU Night." Headlining "TSU Night" at Bridgestone Arena is the New Direction Gospel Choir, which will perform the national anthem, and the world-renowned TSU Aristocrat of Bands drumline, which will entertain Smashville pregame and throughout the game. Tickets to Saturday's "TSU Night" against the Golden Knights at Bridgestone Arena are available on Ticketmaster.com.