Janice Bryant Howroyd Gives $10 Million to USC CollegeMarch 1, 2005
Nationally recognized businesswoman’s gift to increase access to higher education
By Eva Emerson
The College of Letters, Arts & Sciences at the University of Southern California announced today that Los Angeles entrepreneur Janice Bryant Howroyd will give $10 million to support student aid programs at the College.
“Janice Howroyd’s generous gift will provide access for students who could not otherwise afford a college education,” said Joseph Aoun, Dean of USC College. “Her exemplary achievements and dedication to support education will serve as a role model for all of us in the College community.”
Howroyd, the owner and chief executive officer of ACT-1, a personnel services company based in Torrance, Calif., was recently appointed to the USC College Board of Councilors.
The gift establishes an endowment for the Janice Bryant Howroyd Fund for Student Aid in the College. Student awardees will be chosen based on a combination of economic need and academic achievement. The awards will be available to both undergraduate and graduate students.
“My gift is meant to support Dean Aoun’s vision of what USC College will become,” said Howroyd. “Under his dynamic leadership, I think the College has no set boundaries on what it can achieve.”
In her own career, Howroyd’s achievements have yet to reach any limit. Born in North Carolina, Howroyd began ACT-1 in 1978, using a small loan to open a single office in Beverly Hills that focused on serving the entertainment industry. Today, ACT-1 is the largest certified woman-minority owned staffing agency company in the U.S. With branch offices located across the country, ACT-1 employs some 300 full-time workers and manages the placement of more than 65,000 temporary workers in the entertainment, technical, clerical, engineering, accounting and professional services industries.
In the last five years, Howroyd has diversified her business, and in addition to the core human resources services, the ACT-1 Group now provides technical services, creative communications and travel services, and owns California National University for Advanced Studies, an accredited university geared toward working adults. ACT-1 also offers leading-edge solutions through Agile-1, its workforce technology and management division, and through A-Check America, a background-check and drug-screening company. In 2003, the ACT-1 Group was ranked as the largest African American-owned business in its category by Black Enterprise magazine. ACT-1 projected more than $520 million in revenues in 2004.
Essence magazine has featured Howroyd in its book, 50 of the Most Inspiring African Americans. Howroyd was the first African American to be named one of the 50 Leading Woman Entrepreneurs in the World by the Star Group, among many other honors. In addition to the USC College Board of Councilors, she currently serves as a board member of the Economic Development Corporation of L.A. County, L.A. Urban League, Loyola Marymount University and the Women’s Leadership Board of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, among many others. She is featured regularly in the national media, including television appearances on “Oprah” and “The Tavis Smiley Show.” She has written columns on business, employment, entrepreneurship and other issues for a number of print and online publications.
With her gift to USC College, Howroyd is building an impressive record of supporting education. She has long supported scholarships and programs designed to encourage black youth to pursue their educational goals. In 2004 she agreed to co-chair a $100 million capital campaign at her alma mater, North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University, and then pledged a gift of $10 million to the school, one of the largest alumni donations ever made to a historically black college or university.
Howroyd said that simply being in business in Los Angeles, you become familiar with the USC community. “Many of my customers are USC graduates or have connections to ‘SC, so over the years I’d naturally developed a respect for the university,” she said. But it was when Howroyd’s children became students at USC that she and her husband, Bernard Howroyd, joined the Trojan Family. Their daughter, Katharyn, majored in political science in the College, and their son, Brett, studies business. “Our family is very closely knit—you don’t get our kids without getting us, too,” she said.
Howroyd quickly caught the Trojan spirit. She and her husband joined the USC Parents’ Council, which oversees the USC Parents’ Association. She also served as the honorary chair of the USC Black Alumni Association’s 26th Annual Alumni Awards and Scholarship Benefit last year.
To her, what makes USC stand out is its combination of strong academics with so many other student opportunities—a nationally prominent sports program, a diverse student body, a choice of social activities, politically active groups, and, something that Howroyd considers core to any well-rounded education, a strong commitment to community service. “I very much value the diversity of ethnicity, thought, goals and opportunity that the Dean has fostered in the College,” she said.