Pine Bluff, AR (March 4, 2021) – Six student leaders from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) are using social media to reclaim their top spot in the annual Home Depot Retool Your School grant program contest grant program contest after a historic week of snowfall and below-freezing temperatures left the campus community focused on emergency resources for more than two weeks. Vincent Abraham, Crystal Barnes, Raven Franklin, Kennedy McCoy, Ja’Vonte Gonzalez, and Mikal Johnson are a coalition of UAPB leaders helping boost morale and rally our community together.
“Our focus is always helping our peers and community,” said Raven Franklin, an honors student and the 91st Miss University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. “During the winter storm, our efforts were spent tweeting where to find resources and checking on each other.”
Thirty campus improvement grants will be awarded based on consumer voting, according to the Retool Your School website. One grant for the “Campaign of the Year Award,” will be awarded to the school whose campaign proves to be most original, innovative, and particularly effective. UAPB is one of 30 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) across the country who could win thousands of dollars from the grant program.
You can help UAPB win by voting through Twitter and Instagram using the hashtags #UAPB_RYS21. You can also vote for the school directly by visiting the Home Depot Retool Your School Website.
Voting ends on March 15, 2021, at 11:59 a.m.
“I’m confident that the Retool Your School initiative will unify and bridge the gap between alumni, current students, and the Pine Bluff community as we all are going through challenging times,” said Kennedy McCoy, secretary of the Union Programming Board. “I feel like the winter storm only proved how unified and strong the Lion Pride community really is.”
At the start of voting on Feb. 15, the entire UAPB community remained prominent voices on various social media platforms. UAPB held a number three spot on the Retool Your School campaign but quickly dropped in ranking as students shifted their attention to find relief from a snowstorm. In less than 48 hours, the record amount of snowfall affected a vast majority of Pine Bluff with power outages and displaced half of the UAPB football players and other residential students to hotels in Little Rock.
“Right now, especially during these hard times, it’s important that we stick together and take pride in our conviction to winning,” said Vicent Abraham, president of the Student Government Association. “If we really want to see a change in our university it starts with us. This is our campus, and we must take pride in it.”
The student leaders have partnered with the Office of Advancement for cash prizes to be distributed to the top student organizations who use the hashtag #UAPB_RYS21 the greatest number of times.
“Retool Your School is a catalyst for rallying the spirit of the community,” said Vice Chancellor for Advancement George Cotton. “It demonstrates there is a tremendous amount of enthusiasm for the university as a whole.”
The students have even garnered the attention of prominent members of the community who have shown support on social media. Governor Asa Hutchinson announced the importance of the philanthropic program via his Twitter account and Pine Bluff Mayor Shirley Washington posted on her Facebook support for UAPB.
“The snowstorm was nothing but a setback but winning Retool Your School will be our major comeback,” said Crystal Barnes, vice president of the Student Government Association. “Winning Retool Your School for our campus will show our pride and make Dear Mother proud.”