By Hayley Robb, Building Kentucky
The Republic Bank Foundation donated $200,000 to Simmons College of Kentucky, Louisville’s only Historically Black College University (HBCU), to fund five annual student scholarships and restore the historic SchoolHouse building, which was Kentucky’s first-ever public school for Black students.
“This investment from Republic Bank will help us recruit and develop more young Black talent,” Simmons College President Dr. Kevin Cosby said. “We’re grateful to have committed partners like Republic who are directly increasing access to education and training to help our students become successful leaders.”
Scholarships will be awarded to full-time students who maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher who are enrolled in Business, Communications, Sociology or Data Science and describe how they will use their education to improve their communities.
Beyond providing financial support for students, Republic Bank (“Republic” or the “Bank”) is providing an internship program for Simmons students to receive real-world experience in diverse departments throughout the Bank.
In addition to the scholarships awarded, Simmons College plans to use the other half of the Republic Bank Foundation’s donation to purchase the SchoolHouse building that will be transformed into additional office space for the university.
The SchoolHouse, formerly known as the Central Colored School and located at West Kentucky Street, served as a cultural and education center for the city’s Black community until 1894, when it was relocated due to overcrowding. In 1917, the building was renamed and continued as a place of education until 1970. A decade later it was vacant and largely forgotten.
“We’re proud to join Simmons College in reviving a historic building that served students for more than a century,” Republic Bank President and CEO Logan Pichel said. “Through this investment, we hope to build upon Simmons’ strong foundation, making even more resources available to grow future leaders in our community.”
This donation builds upon other significant lending and investment initiatives by Republic and its Foundation to support underserved communities. Recent efforts include the $3 million Community Loan Fund, launched in 2020 to support small businesses and promote business development and job creation in low-to-moderate income communities, a $150,000 donation from the Republic Bank Foundation to the Louisville Urban League Norton Healthcare Sports and Learning Center, and the Republic Bank Foundation YMCA, a $33.5 million facility in West Louisville. The Bank also launched a leadership certificate program with Bellarmine University in 2021 to help young women of color gain valuable skills and mentorship to carry with them in business and entrepreneurship.