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Claflin University Receives $2.7 Million Donation from BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina to Support Sustainability and Student Success During COVID-19 Pandemic

Sep 02, 2020
Claflin University President Dr. Dwaun J. Warmack, pictured right, with Mr. Marcus Burgess, interim vice president for institutional advancement.

Claflin University has received more than $2.7 million from BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina for immediate financial needs to ensure sustainability and help students start or continue their education. The gift was part of the company's financial commitment to five private four-year historically black colleges/universities (HBCUs) in South Carolina based on enrollment levels for specific priorities. Guidelines for funding also focused on immediate gaps such as technology support.
 
"BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina's generous gift reaffirms the remarkable contributions by Claflin and other HBCUs on the landscape of higher education in South Carolina," said Claflin University President Dr. Dwaun J. Warmack. "Their gift is consistent with one of the company's guiding principles: giving back to the communities where their employees work and live. We appreciate the support of BlueCross as we continue to provide high-quality academic programs for our students despite challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic."
 
As COVID-19 has challenged schools across the country, HBCUs are at unique risk because these private colleges receive little to no state support and distance learning is complicated because many students live in areas where there is not high-speed internet service nor do they have computers. Enrollment demographics show HBCU students are primarily African American. Most students are low-income, and more than half are the first in their families to attend college. In addition, more than 95 percent receive some form of financial aid.
 
According to David Pankau, president and CEO of BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, the devastation wreaked by the coronavirus on individuals, families, businesses, and communities has been amplified among South Carolina's vulnerable and minority populations. He said, "It has been well reported that the coronavirus revealed our minority communities encounter profound disparities in many ways. At BlueCross, we believe healthy communities are defined not only by access to health care services, but also by the fostering of opportunities that comes from education, employment and the potential for an improved quality of life for everyone."
 
Headquartered in Columbia, and operating in South Carolina for more than 70 years, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. The only South Carolina-owned and operated health insurance carrier, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina comprises more than 20 companies involved in health insurance services, U.S. DoD health programs and Medicare contracts, other insurance and employee benefits services, and a philanthropic foundation that funds programs to improve health care and access to health care for South Carolinians.
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