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Why Supporting Music Scholarships At HBCUs Is Important

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DaBeth Manns provided seed funding to endow a scholarship named for her late mother. The Belinda S. Womack Endowed Memorial Music Scholarship — supports students at Winston Salem State University (WSSU). Mann’s mother — was a student at WSSU, graduating in 1973 and double majoring in music with a focus on operatic vocal performance, and education with an emphasis on music education. Following the WSSU’s motto “enter to learn and depart to serve,” Womack had a career as a certified music teacher for nearly 40 years throughout North Carolina, Virginia, and Washington, DC, where she eventually retired from the public schools system.

DaBeth Manns learned to “cherish intellectual curiosity” and to “appreciate a home life filled with activities” from her mother. She shared, “Multiple genres of music participation, an abundance of reading and writing, in addition to academic pursuits took precedence” in the family home. Manns’ mother’s singing, teaching and instrumental talent throughout her life “captivated her imagination and awakened her senses.” Decades later, as Manns stated, “I remain enamored with her magnificent talents and the courage she exhibited during her eventful life.”

In the footsteps of her mother, Manns earned a bachelor’s degree from Wake Forest University in 1997, a master’s degree 2000 from historically Black North Carolina A&T State University, and a Ph.D. in 2003 from Purdue University. After leading an international consulting firm for 20 years, she is now retired. Her primary focus is raising awareness of the Belinda S. Womack Endowed Memorial Music Scholarship, and creating additional scholarships.

Manns provided the initial money for the scholarship endowment in 2014. She made smaller monetary contributions over the next few years. Her philanthropic journey led to her creating awareness, advocacy, and direct fundraising efforts. She organized, sponsored, and hosted biannual community concerts as well as monthly open-mic events to support the scholarship. In perpetuity, the dividends from the scholarship endowment will support recipients with a variety of activities, supplies, fees associated with competitions, professional development opportunities, and tuition assistance. Applications are due each year in the Spring semester for disbursement in the Fall semester of the next academic year. According to Manns, “I decided to support the collegiate study of music because it is indispensable and interdisciplinary, containing a multitude of benefits. Music provides meaning and validation through shared experience thus exposure to and expression of music is essential.”

When she was younger, Manns witnessed “multiple communities, including immediate and extended family members, engaging in various philanthropic causes.” Even more important than monetary gifts, the sharing of time, volunteering, and advocacy was essential in the community where Manns lived. According to Giving Back, a book by Valaida Fullwood, philanthropic activity is not uncommon in Black communities. Research shows that although Black people acquire fewer assets (often due to systemic racism and disenfranchisement), they donate 25% more of their household incomes to charitable causes than other racial and ethnic groups.

But why did Manns support music scholarships at HBCUs in particular? She is appreciative of HBCUs founders, faculty, staff, and supporters, believing they are noteworthy individuals deserving of praise for their preservation of culture and heritage through building HBCUs and their music programs. Specifically, Manns shared, “For me, supporting HBCU students in music means that I am simultaneously honoring my late mother’s legacy in music while actively participating in the everlasting impact of philanthropy that began generations before my existence.”



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Written by: Soft FM Radio Staff

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