The Coca-Cola Company announced that it will give $6 million to Spelman College, Morehouse College, Clark Atlanta University and the Morehouse School of Medicine, all part of the Atlanta University Center. This support will assist students at these Atlanta-based historically black colleges and universities with scholarship funds where economic hardship is impacting the likelihood of the completion of their education. Additionally, the Company announced that $1.2 million will be given to the Robert W. Woodruff Library on the campus of the Atlanta University Center to upgrade the Library’s IT infrastructure and enhance the ability to manage and provide access to critical archival documents, such as the Martin Luther King, Jr. papers.
Muhtar Kent, chairman and CEO, The Coca-Cola Company, made the check presentations at the Robert W. Woodruff Library to Dr. Beverly Tatum, president, Spelman College; Dr. Robert Franklin, Jr., president, Morehouse College; Dr. Carlton Brown, president, Clark Atlanta University; Dr. John Maupin, Jr., president, Morehouse School of Medicine; and Ms. Loretta Parham, CEO and Library Director, Robert W. Woodruff Library at the Atlanta University Center.
“The Coca-Cola Company will always look for opportunities to make a difference in the communities where it operates, especially in our hometown,” said Mr. Kent. “On behalf of our associates who call Atlanta home, we are proud to provide $7.2 million to these leading institutions of higher learning. We view this as an investment in the next generation of students who will pass through these campuses, continue their education and benefit from having Dr. King’s papers within arm’s reach.”
The Coca-Cola Company created and funded a $10 million Promotional Achievement Award Fund (PAAF) program for its United States based African-American employees as part of a class-action lawsuit settlement in 2000. The fund was designed to encourage and provide education opportunities for African-American employees in the United States and was operational from 2004 to 2008. During that time, employees accessed $2.8 million for educational opportunities. The remaining money in the Fund, as a term in the settlement, was designated by The Coca-Cola Company to be distributed to eligible institutions in the Atlanta University Center.
In accepting the scholarship support, Dr. Beverly Tatum said, “The students and the faculty of these institutions are grateful and thankful to The Coca-Cola Company. This support will be of immense help to a number of students wanting to realize their dreams through education. Given the current difficult times, initiatives like these assume an even greater significance.”