Vote to help Dillard win ‘Retool Your School’

Dillard is among 62 Historically Black Colleges and Universities competing for a chance to win a $50,000 improvement grant from The Home Depot’s Retool Your School program, and you can help.


Two other local universities also make the finals: Southern University in New Orleans and Xavier University. Some 59 percent of the nation’s HBCUs applied for the program, according to Home Depot.


Students and residents in the community can go online to vote through June 15. Voters are allowed to vote once a day through the deadline, according to the Retool Your School Web site. To vote, go to, click on the Dillard icon, type in the number to the right of the page and hit “vote.”


Additionally, Home Depot also is offering “Retool Your School” gift cards. For each gift card sold, the store chain will donate 5 percent of the face value, up to $150,000, for the home improvement grants.


Dillard is seeking the $50,000 for a community resource center, according to Nick Harris, assistant vice president of the university’s Community Development Corp.


The program was designed to assist HBCUs with campus and community improvement projects.  According to the Retool Your School site, universities were asked to submit two proposals – one for a major project and the other for a minor project.  The schools with the best proposals were selected as finalists in the competition.


The school with the most votes will receive a $50,000 grant for a major project.  Ten more schools will get $10,000 grants for their minor projects.


The Retool Your School site said Dillard’s major project proposal is a resource center to assist residents by providing rebuilding information, grant workshops, jobs skills training, health care, housing and leadership development.  Harris said the site would be located at 4500 Elysian Fields, property owned by the university. 


Dillard’s minor project would offer “how-to” home improvement workshops for area youth who would be able to use the skills in their job search and help to renovate the resource center, Harris said. Harris added that if Dillard wins funding, the CDC also will accommodate several items on the Gentilly Neighborhood Association’s wish list.


Students also will be able to get involved in the projects, Harris said.


The Home Depot is the world’s largest home improvement specialty retailer, with 2,245 retail stores with $71.3 billion in sales in fiscal 2008.