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Thursday, June 20, 2024

Meet Marcia Cox: The NCAT Alumna Supporting St. Augustine’s University Through Her Coffee Business

There is something truly special about coffee that is made with passion. It’s the feeling I get as I sit at my desk sipping on a cup of Kaldi’s ‘1867 roast’ blend. For Marcia, coffee is her way of expressing her gratitude to others.

Meet Marcia Cox, a third-generation graduate of an HBCU (Historically Black College or University) and co-owner of Kaldi’s Coffee House and Roastery located in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she personally prepares pastries, tea, and coffee for her customers.

Marcia credits her experience at North Carolina A&T University as being a significant influence in her path to becoming a business owner.

“Attending an HBCU impacted my journey to become a business owner because going to A&T, I was surrounded by entrepreneurs and people who had their own side hustles,” Marcia tells us.

“It inspired me to pursue what was once a hobby, –into an actual reality.”

When Marcia heard about the financial and accreditation challenges facing Saint Augustine’s University, — an HBCU based in Raleigh, N.C., she wanted to use her cafe and creativity to help.

“I read a story about St. Aug possibly losing its’ accreditation. As a history major, I wanted to learn more. I did some research and learned more about the issues St. Aug was facing and realized that they were given a provisional period to raise funds to keep them from losing their accreditation permanently. That’s when I decided I would create a special label to raise awareness and give a portion of the proceeds back.” 

Marcia recognized that such challenges could be the case for any of our HBCUs.

“Most are only one problem or issue away from the same thing happening to them. I felt it was important to do what I could and create a platform for others to do the same through coffee sales.” 

Marcia has created a new coffee blend called “1867”, which is a medium roast with hints of fruit and chocolate. She was inspired to create this blend by St. Augustine’s University, which was established in the same year. Marcia is donating 30% of the sales from this blend to the Falcon Pride Initiative, a fundraising campaign launched last year by the university to help preserve its accreditation and financially support the school.

Kaldi’s website is filled with roasted coffee, teas, baked goods, and merchandise including mugs, shirts, and aprons! The most popular product at the current moment is our St. Augustine’s inspired “1867 Blend”.

Marcia Cox, co-founder of Kaldi’s Coffee House and Roastery

The blend is offered in a 12-ounce medium roast, with your choice of ground or whole-bean coffee. The blend is made using our Ethiopia Yirgacheffe green beans, which are sourced from Genuine Origin.

Kaldi’s also offers two additional HBCU roasts in their coffee collection: the 1891 and 1892 blends inspired by North Carolina A&T University and Winston-Salem State University.

HBCUs nationwide are underfunded by at least $12 million, according to an analysis from the U.S. Department of Education, and many of these historic institutions are in danger of permanently shutting their doors.

“What would be a common cold for a PWI – specifically, loss of enrollment through COVID and still an ongoing issue – is a full-blown pandemic event for most HBCUs.” — Veronica Cox

Marcia’s mom, Veronica Cox, says as a concerned parent, she understands the challenges and how more initiatives like Marcia’s could help address the ongoing financial issues at our HBCUs.”As a parent, an HBCU graduate, and the parent of an HBCU graduate, I sympathize with the SAU students,” Veronica says.

“Our HBCUs are not funded by either the state or through endowments to weather many storms. Many HBCUs struggle to survive in the best of circumstances, with full state budgets and high enrollments. Any hiccups can result in what we’re seeing at St. Aug, in Mississippi and Alabama. I am happy that Marcia is bringing attention to the situation and through her passion, hopefully, inspiring others to do what they can to help as well.”

We spoke with SAU about Marcia’s 1867 initiative and President Marcus Burgess tells us the university couldn’t be more thankful.

“Saint Augustine’s University is deeply grateful for the generous support of Marcia Cox and Kaldi’s Coffee House in donating 30% of ‘1867 blend’ sales to our Falcon Pride Initiative,” President Burgess says. “The outpouring of community support, as we navigate financial challenges and accreditation preservation, is truly heartening. Marcia Cox’s initiative exemplifies the unity and solidarity that continue to uplift and strengthen our institution.”

Marcia says she hopes the initiative will not only bring awareness to the challenges facing St. Augustine’s but will also address financial issues impacting HBCUs nationwide.

“I hope that this initiative will raise more awareness and knowledge about St. Augustine’s University, and in turn more and more people will donate funds or even share my story for more reach.”

“The more people know the more people can help. With other HBCUs that are facing similar financial challenges, I hope that my story inspires the next young entrepreneur to do what they can to help out those universities that may be in need. It is really rewarding work to feel like you play a part in helping a larger cause.” 

To keep up with Marcia and help support the 1867 Falcon Coffee initiative, please visit Kaldi’s website and follow her on all the socials below.

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