This Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, Jan. 20 will kick off an important initiative aimed at helping graduating students of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) pay off outstanding balances that may be preventing them from obtaining their degrees. Together, Jack and Jill of America, Inc. and Natural Grocers will join forces in a first-of-its-kind partnership for a strategic program called, “Supporting America’s Families Together.” The program will include an investment campaign inclusive of donations and customer fundraising, support of Jack and Jill’s Graduation Assistance Program (GAP) scholarship endowment fund and access to job and internship opportunities.
Supporting America’s HBCU Students
Each year, a growing number of students with remaining school debt are not allowed to graduate. This amount varies and can even be less than $1500, but still too much for students to resolve before walking across the stage. To address this issue, Jack and Jill of America and the Jack and Jill Foundation created the GAP fund to provide a lifeline to students during this critical life transition with the goal of raising $2 million in ten years for qualifying students.
Through the historic initiative with the Colorado-based organic grocer, on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, 2.5% of all Natural Grocers sales across the country will be donated to Jack and Jill’s GAP fund. The donation goal is $60,000. In addition, customers can make contributions directly to the fund at any of the 154 Natural Grocers locations at point-of-sale throughout February for Black History Month.
“Our partnership with Natural Grocers is the first of its kind with any retailer and we are delighted about the focused MLK Day and Black History Month fundraising campaigns and other donations which will generate income for our GAP fund. Working together, we are doing more to make a difference in the lives of all children, not just our own,” says Danielle Brown, Jack and Jill of America, Inc. national president.
Administered by the Jack and Jill Foundation, student members of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. are not the direct beneficiaries of any funds raised, including scholarships. The foundation funds organizations that can make the greatest impact on children in three focus areas: African American families, education, and health and wellness. It will work directly with colleges to identify students who qualify for GAP funding to graduate and receive their degrees.
Dedicated to the Next Generation of Leaders
Established in 1938 by mothers dedicated to raising the next generation of leaders, Jack and Jill of America will also work together with Natural Grocers to recruit good4you crew members from its network to offer career and training opportunities, including the 9-month Store Manager Accelerate Readiness Training program.
“We are thrilled about the amazing opportunities for our own Jack and Jill teens and alumni who will have access to jobs, internships and management training,” says Brown. Just as excited about the partnership is Kemper Isley, Natural Grocers chairman and co-president, who says, “As our partner, Jack and Jill of America helps us to reinforce our purpose-driven mission to all communities across the country.”
A local partnership between the two organizations started in October of last year with Jack and Jill’s Portland Willamette Valley chapter. After receiving such generous support, the store fundraising initiative will now extend to include all of Natural Grocers locations across the country this February.
Natural Grocers is located in 20 states. To find a store near you to shop at, visit https://www.naturalgrocers.com/store-locator. For more about Jack and Jill of America, Inc. and their programs, including how to directly contribute to the GAP fund all year long, visit https://jackandjillinc.org/.