This Home Improvement Giant Cares About African-American Students

A look at the annual Corporate Social Responsibility reports issued by Lowe's reveals a broad range of philanthropic interests, mostly involving such activities as supporting Habitat For Humanity, funding facilities improvements at schools, rebuilding homes after natural disasters — you know, the kinds of works you would expect from the home improvement giant whose massive warehouse stores are a kind of cathedral for do-it-yourselfers across the country.

But the Lowe's Charitable and Educational Foundation's work doesn't end there. The North Carolina-based retailer also has a fondness for the nation's historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), as well as the students attending them.

In years past, the company's philanthropic branch has funded scholarships for students attending HBCUs by giving to two of the largest scholarship funds for these institutions: the United Negro College Fund and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.

Recently, Lowe's continued that support, contributing a grant of $500,000 to the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. The grant will provide support to graduating senior students enrolled at HBCUs. The $500,000 grant to the Marshall Fund quadruples the amount given in 2013, when Lowe's gave $125,000 to support scholarships for 47 students enrolled at such institutions as Howard University, Chicago State, and Prairie View A&M.

Scholarships appear to be this funder's preferred means of supporting higher education. Since 2009, the Lowe's Charitable and Educational Foundation has contributed nearly $4 million to organizations such as UNCF and the Thurgood Marshall Fund. Another scholarship program, the Lowe's Scholarship Program, helps fund undergraduate studies for Lowe's employees and their family members.