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Georgia-Based Bank Donates $1 Million to UNCF to Fund Education for Black College Students

More African-American students will be able to attend college at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other higher learning institutions, thanks to Synovus Bank.

Synovus Bank donated $1 million to the United Negro College Fund in honor of Georgia State Rep. Calvin Smyre.

Albany State sophomore Chloe Smith will get the opportunity to go to college this fall because of the contribution. “I truly do love UNCF for what they do because they do care about us college students,” said Smith.

Smith said loans would be her only option if not for UNCF. “That extra boost of that scholarship, it helped take much of a load off,” she said.

Albany State is just one of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities that will benefit from funds coming from UNCF thanks to the Synovus/Calvin Smyre Scholarship Fund. The fund is named for Smyre, who spent nearly 40 years with Synovus. The scholarship fund will provide scholarships to African-American students who attend HBCUs and other institutions of higher education in Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Florida and Tennessee.

“I think this is a way to say to Calvin, you know ‘Thank you for being in this community as a representative, but not only that but to continue to push education and the importance of education,’ said Executive Vice President of UNCF Maurice Jenkins Jr. “And so, it’s only fitting for a person of that magnitude.”

“We were doubly thrilled to be able to honor Calvin Smyre because Calvin has been such an important part of our company for so long,” said Alison Dowe, chief communications officer for Synovus. “He’s been a mover in the state. He’s been a mover in the region and in the country.”

Smyre, the longest-serving member of the Georgia General Assembly, is also an HBCU graduate.

The graduate of the then Fort Valley State College says it’s a privilege to have his name as part of a scholarship that supports black students and HBCUs. A student from his alma mater also will benefit from the fund.

“What bigger honor can you have than to have something named in your honor that says it’s to help young people and young students fully develop themselves?” exclaimed Smyre.

Smyre says supporting young people is something he’s always been passionate about. 

“I want to treat people fairly and good while I’m going up the ladder,” Smyre said. “So, when I come down the ladder, the hands are still there.”

Helping others is also on the minds of those at Smyre’s former employer, Synovus. The company plans to focus on more diversity and inclusion initiatives for the company.

“We love HBCUs because we have a lot of HBCUs in our Southeastern footprint,” said Dowe. “They’re a big part of our communities. They are huge drivers of change and improvement.”

Smith agreed. She said she is fired up and can’t wait for the awarding of the first scholarship.

“We are here and we want people to understand that our education [matters] as much as a PWI (predominately white institution) education matters,” Smith said.

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