A graduate of Fisk University, part of the network of respected Historically Black Colleges and Universities in Nashville, Kandace Harris quickly found success in the business world.
Now a branch manager for Regions Bank, Harris is intent on helping the next generation of students pave their own way.
“I’m really proud to be giving back to my HBCU, and I’m really proud that I’ve been a part of a company that allows me to do it,” Harris said. “I’m also proud that that my community wants me to come out and teach what I’m learning. Isn’t that what it’s all about?
“This is my way of saying, ‘Good job, Fisk, for developing me and allowing me to share what I’ve learned outside of the university.’ It means the world to me.”
Historically Black Colleges and Universities, or HBCUs, first blossomed after the Civil War when religious leaders and philanthropists began establishing post-secondary schools across the South to educate the newly free.
More than 150 years later, HBCUs continue to flourish. And throughout the markets it serves, Regions plays a role through volunteer and financial contributions.
“Regions understands the importance of Historically Black Colleges and Universities in our communities, especially here in Nashville,” said Jim Schmitz, Middle Tennessee Area President for Regions. “We’ve worked with American Baptist College, Fisk University, Meharry Medical College and Tennessee State University for years to build solid relationships.”
At Nashville’s American Baptist College, President Dr. Forrest E. Harris Sr. has seen the value of working together with businesses and community leaders.
“Regions Bank and American Baptist College have formed a strategic partnership to advance the mission of the college,” Dr. Harris said. “It’s been very critical in how that has been tied together, and it has given us support to move forward as a historically black college and university.”
“One of the things that’s very interesting about historically black colleges and universities is they educate first-generation college students, and low- and moderate-income students,” said Latrisha Jemison, the Regional Community Affairs Manager for Regions in Middle Tennessee. “The resources that Regions puts back into these schools provides an education. Regions gives students scholarship money that they might not be able to receive through loans, and it minimizes the debt they’re going to have after they get out of school.”
The partnerships aren’t limited to money.
Regions provides technical service and Regions associates volunteer their time.
“We have people on advisory boards,” Jemison said “I serve on the board at American Baptist College. It really fits into the passion I have to give back to colleges and universities.”
In Nashville, associates from Regions are involved at American Baptist College, Fisk, Meharry Medical College and Tennessee State University, providing advice, guidance and education to students, teaching financial wellness and hosting seminars.
“We’re not just writing checks,” says Ronnie Smith, the Mid-America Regional President for Regions. “When we talk about capital, it’s not just financial. It’s people. And people make the difference.”
Smith points to Regions’ long history with Tennessee State. “The partnership has really served as a model for how we have built a relationship and put strategic plans in place around our partnership with historic black colleges and universities.”
TSU President Dr. Glenda Glover says Regions has a “really good reputation in the community,” and the partnership with the company is a key ingredient to the university staying out front.
“We are living at a time in Tennessee where you’re judged by productivity more than sheer numbers,” Glover said.
The partnership with Regions, Glover said, is a key ingredient in staying out front.
“They are committed to student success, and that’s extremely important to us at TSU,” Glover says. “Knowing that we can depend on a partner like Regions to come in, work with us and make TSU greater, it’s because of this relationship that we’re achieving higher heights. We’re really appreciative of this partnership with Regions.”
“Nashville does a really good job with these partnerships, making them local and personal,” said Jelicia Mallory, Regions Corporate Sponsorships. “We are proud of the work there, as well as our support of other HBCUs throughout the markets we serve.”
Learn more about Regions’ partnerships with HBCUs across the country.