Every year, thousands of students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities are forced to drop out of school due to financial hardship.

What’s being done to stop this?

For the fourth year in a row, Allstate has teamed up with the Tom Joyner Foundation to raise money and help HBCU students stay in school through Allstate’s 6th annual Quotes for Education program.

So how can you help? From now until November 30, if you receive an insurance quote, Allstate will donate $10 to the Tom Joyner Foundation. This year, up to $200,000 will be earmarked for scholarships. An additional $50,000 in scholarships will be awarded to the HBCU that receives the most fan votes online.

Since launching back in 2009, the Allstate Quotes for Education program has raised more than half a million dollars in scholarships for HBCU students.

Here, Tom Joyner, popular radio personality and alum of Tuskegee University, takes a break from his busy schedule to discuss the importance of HBCUs.

EBONY: How did your partnership with Allstate’s Quotes for Education program come about?

Tom Joyner: The Tom Joyner Foundation, the Tom Joyner Morning Show, and Allstate have similar missions and that is we want to help serve our community, as well as get people to listen to our show, and buy some insurance. One of the things that we both do is we help serve our community through everything that affects our community. Higher education, of course, is one of them. And the Tom Joyner Foundation does one thing – all we do is help students stay in school at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, so it’s just a natural partnership.

When Allstate said they wanted to do something with us, we said, “Hey, thank you. Here’s how you can help,” so we came up with Quotes for Education. It’s a real simple deal. All people have to do is go to their Allstate agent or visit the website to get a quote and $10 is given to the foundation and the school that they choose, and $50,000 will be given to the school with the most votes. Up to $200,000 this year will be donated by Allstate.

EBONY: Last year, approximately 28,000 HBCU students were forced to drop out of college due to loan changes. What goes through your mind when you hear that many Black students had to drop out of school?

TJ: That’s what the foundation does. We help students stay in school at HBCUs – not get in school. We only help students stay in school because as you probably know, it is one thing to get admitted to a college, it is another thing to stay in college, and that’s what the foundation has done since 1998. That’s all we’ve ever done is help students stay in school. We’ve donated more than 65 million dollars to that effort.

EBONY: Why should people get on board with this program?

TJ: It’s said that too often we don’t support our HBCUs, and I’ve got 65 million reasons why that’s just not true. We as a people will support – what I found out with the foundation and now with Allstate doing this program is that we want to give, we just need a way to do it, and that’s what we provide. The United Negro College Fund is one way of giving to Black colleges, but up until we came along, that was just about it.

When we came on in 1998 with the Tom Joyner Foundation, I think we collected $65,000 for our first month’s goal. Everybody was surprised because you always hear that Black folks don’t support their Black colleges and the alumni don’t give back and that’s just not true. We need a mechanism to do it. And that’s what the Tom Joyner Foundation has done and what Allstate has done with Quotes for Education. How simple is it to go to a HBCU event or a homecoming and on the way, get a quote with an Allstate agent or just go online. How easy is it? And that’s what we’ve provided – a way to give back.

EBONY: What are some other ways people can help out HBCUs?

TJ: Keep giving. That’s one good way, but like I always say, if you can’t give money, give time to a HBCU. Mentor somebody. Encourage someone to go to a Black college. There are 106 HBCUs out there. We need all the support we can get. You think it’s tough out there to go to school? Try going to school at a historically Black college. It’s really, really tough, so any way you can give, whether it’s through finance or even volunteering like I said. Help a Black college to stay strong. Help the Tom Joyner Foundation and Allstate help HBCUs stay strong.

EBONY: Have you been able to meet some of the students who’ve been directly affected by your foundation and Allstate’s Quotes for Education program?

TJ: Oh yes. More importantly, I’ve met their parents and I get the best hugs. I get some real tight hugs, especially from the mamas!

EBONY: What sort of things do they tell you about how you changed their lives?

TJ: That’s exactly what they tell me! You know, they didn’t know how they were going to get through that year of school and then, they got a scholarship from the Tom Joyner Foundation. And they say, “Thank you so much” and then, I get a second hug. Then, they tell me what has happened to their lives and how the foundation has helped and then, I get another hug and it gets even tighter. I love it!

EBONY: You’re obviously very successful. Why is it so important for you to give back and help these young Black adults graduate from college, get ahead, and reach their full potential?

TJ: HBCUs are a part of my DNA. I’m not only a product of Tuskegee. I’m a native of Tuskegee. My brother is a product of Tuskegee. My mother and father both graduated from HBCUs. Both sets of grandparents graduated from HBCUs. Both of my children went to a HBCU and graduated. My brother’s children all attend HBCUs. I have four flybabies right now – I don’t say grandbabies; I’m the fly pop – and one day, they will attend a HBCU as well.

Also, I think that’s our purpose on earth. It’s intended for us – all of us – to help people and this was one way I could help out.

For more information about Allstate’s 6th Annual Quotes for Education program, visit www.allstate.com/represent.

Princess Gabbara is a 20-something Michigan-based journalist/freelance writer. As a graduate of Eastern Michigan University, she’s contributed to a host of publications, including Ebony.com, Essence.com, xoJane.com, ClutchMagOnline.com, ForHarriet.com, BlackDoctor.org, and Sesi Magazine. You can read more of her work on her blog. She also tweets @PrincessGabbara.