In 2009, The Home Depot launched the Retool Your School Campus Improvement Grant Program to award grants to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) for campus renovations, repairs and enhancements. Over the years, the program has attempted to give back to HBCUs some of what they have so generously given to their students, alumni and communities: a strong foundation, a renewed purpose and a distinctive character. Since its inception, the Retool Your School Program has awarded 184 campus improvement grants totaling over $5.2 million. But HBCU campuses, students and communities continue to have areas of unmet need. So, as Retool Your School enters its 14th year, we have renewed our commitment to being “Powered by Purpose” by developing several exciting new initiatives for 2023.
Some of the programs outlined below are entirely new; others were operating under the radar and managed by teams in various departments at The Home Depot. Uniting these initiatives under the Retool Your School banner will bring higher visibility to all programs and help The Home Depot take a more holistic approach toward its HBCU initiatives. According to Tiffany Mitsui, Senior Manager of Multicultural Marketing at The Home Depot, “We saw an opportunity for us to bring it all together and make it more of an impactful, company-wide collective initiative to support HBCUs.”
Importantly, 2023 marks the first time that students will be able to directly benefit from Retool Your School initiatives such as need- based scholarships even if their HBCU does not apply for the Campus Improvement Grant Program. Jena Alford, Senior Manager of DEI at The Home Depot stated, “The [Campus Improvement Grant Program] is a great program…however, what if your school doesn’t participate? Then, you’re left out of Retool Your School. So, we took a step back and realized that we needed to add some individual student and community opportunities as well.”
Campus Improvement Grants
The Campus Improvement Grant competition – the pillar of the Retool Your School Program – will return in 2023. This year, The Home Depot is doubling the available grant pool. For example, last year, each first-place school received $75,000. In 2023, the first-place winner in each cluster will receive $150,000. Increased awards will help HBCUs undertake bigger, better and bolder campus improvement projects.
Retool Your School Campus Improvement Grant Awards
|2022 Award||2023 Award|
Programs New to Retool Your School for 2023
For many years, The Home Depot has partnered with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) to provide scholarships. In 2023, these scholarships will be brought under the Retool Your School umbrella. The program will offer 60 scholarships worth $2500 each. Students at any private or public HBCU may apply even if their HBCU does not participate in the Campus Improvement Grant competition.
Resume and Interview Workshops
The Home Depot’s associates have long offered career assistance and advice to HBCU students. Starting in 2023, the Retool Your School Program will sponsor one virtual resume workshop and one virtual interviewing workshop each quarter. All HBCU students are welcome to attend. Again, students can attend these sessions regardless of their school’s participation in the Campus Improvement Grant competition.
In 2023, the Retool Your School Program will offer 300 externships for HBCU students. These virtual externships will last from six to eight weeks and will give students an unparalleled opportunity to meet with corporate leaders, build their professional networks and learn about business in a collaborative environment. At the end of the externship, each student will receive a $500 stipend and a certificate of completion. Externships will be awarded without regard to whether a student’s school has opted into the Campus Improvement Grant program.
An innovation lounge is a place on campus where students can come together to problem solve, do schoolwork, attend webinars, explore entrepreneurial ideas, and anything else they can imagine. According to Alford, the lounges “give students a space where they can come in and be themselves but also be inspired.” In 2023, the Retool Your School Program will award 10 HBCUs need-based grants to renovate an existing campus space into an innovation lounge. HBCUs can apply for innovation lounge grants without participating in the Campus Improvement Grant competition.
Community Project Grants
While Retool Your School grants have long focused on campus life, the communities that surround HBCUs also play a role in nurturing and supporting HBCU students, alumni, faculty and staff. To that end, starting in 2023, the Retool Your School Program will allow HBCUs to apply for need-based grants of up to $50,000. Examples of projects that might merit a Community Project Grant include cleaning a park, providing school supplies for K-12 students, or restocking a food pantry. HBCUs need not opt into the Campus Improvement Grant Program to apply for these funds.
Mitsui explained, “We wanted to give HBCUs an opportunity to select an area of need that they see in their communities because we know how important the community is to them. Providing additional funds for the schools to support their surrounding communities will uplift the HBCU as well as the students and the administrators.”
These new opportunities demonstrate The Home Depot’s continued commitment to be “Powered by Purpose.” These additional funds and new initiatives will help students, campuses and communities for years to come. To learn more about the Program, rules, or eligibility requirements for these initiatives, visit the rules page.