‘J5 Drum Majors for Academic Excellence’ band together to raise $1M for scholarships


Jackson State University’s Development Foundation is teaming up with several high-profile heavy-hitters for a campaign called the “J5 Drum Majors for Academic Excellence” to help the HBCU generate $1 million within four years (2020) for endowed scholarships.

Although the campaign may evoke thoughts of the globally renowned Sonic Boom and its J5 Drum Majors, the fundraiser is not an initiative for the marching band. So, organizers are working painstakingly to communicate that money generated by five teams of prominent leaders will be used only to provide financial support to students.

The two architects of the idea are Dr. Alfred Martin Jr., chair of the JSU Development Foundation, and Keith Collins, general manager of JSUTV.

During an interview with JSUTV, Martin said, “The goal is to show everyone that we love Jackson State, and we don’t mind giving back. This is not corporate giving; this is ‘us giving’.”

Martin does acknowledge, however, that the reason behind the name of the campaign is to pay homage to the J5 Drum Majors and Sonic Boom because they are such an integral part of JSU.

So, this is how the fundraising campaign is designed to work:

“This is not corporate giving; this is ‘us giving’.”– Dr. Alfred Martin Jr., chair of the JSU Development Foundation.Leaders of five competing teams are identified. They are considered “drum majors” because they already have committed $5,000 each and recruited four other members to join their efforts.

Individually, each team will raise $25,000. Collectively, they will bring in $125,000.

With Title III matching funds, that figure will skyrocket to $250,000 by the Sept. 30 deadline for first-year contributions. And, leaders aim to present a check in that amount on the football field during JSU Homecoming on Saturday, Nov. 4.

Even greater than that amount, Martin said the end of the four-year campaign is expected to generate $500,000 that will balloon to $1 million with matching funds.

Martin reiterates that the most important aspect of this fundraiser is that all money will go strictly to a specific endowment for scholarships. He said the campaign is an innovative approach to the art of giving and will help expand support to academic units that typically receive little to no donor assistance.

These are the five teams of head drum majors:

  • Dr. William B. Bynum Jr., president of JSU (team funds will be dedicated to The Christine Bynum Smith Endowed Scholarship for Academic Excellence and Involvement in Campus Ministries)
  • Dr. Bill Cooley, dean emeritus of the JSU College of Business (team funds will be earmarked for the College of Business)
  • Tarita Benson Davis, second vice chair of the Jackson State University National Alumni Association (team funds will be distributed to the College of Business) 
  • Dr. Anna Jackson, a Memphis physician and former member of the Sonic Boom (team funds will support the Biology Department)
  • Dr. John A. Peoples Jr., JSU president emeritus (team funds will benefit JSU’s Army ROTC)

Although each team currently consists of five people, other individuals such as alumni and friends have expressed interest in joining one of the above groups. Now, with the doors open to all supporters globally, the campaign is expected to grow exponentially.

Interested individuals may contribute to the Development Foundation’s campaign through JSU’s Division of Institutional Advancement by calling 601-979-2282, or gifts may be mailed to the foundation at P.O. Box 17144, Jackson, MS 39217. Another easier, electronic method to donate is by clicking on J5 ACADEMIC DRUM MAJORS.