‘Peanuts’ Launches Armstrong Endowments at HBCUs Howard & Hampton

Peanuts Worldwide today announced the launch of “The Armstrong Project”: establishing $200,000 in endowments at two Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), which includes an annual scholarship to students studying either arts, communications, animation or entertainment. Each school will receive $100,000 to establish endowments.

The scholarship will first be awarded during the 2022-2023 school year at Howard University in Washington, DC, and Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia.

As an enhanced scholarship program, The Armstrong Project will also ensure mentorship and internship opportunities for the students with individuals and companies in entertainment fields such as animation, film and television.

Cartoonist Robb Armstrong, a longtime friend and colleague of Charles Schulz and the inspiration for Franklin’s last name (revealed in 1994), is a member of the Board of Directors of the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, California, and has been a consistent source of support throughout the creation of this important program.

“I’m very excited for the young aspiring artists at these HBCUs whose lives may be changed by Peanuts, just as my life was changed by the inspiration and mentorship of Charles Schulz,” said Armstrong, the award-winning creator of JumpStart. “Sparky was a thoughtful and generous man who took seriously the hopes and dreams of young people. It is my belief that he would be thrilled by the potential of The Armstrong Project to help young people fulfill their ambitions.”

The character of Franklin emerged from a correspondence between Charles Schulz and a California schoolteacher named Harriet Glickman. Glickman wrote to Schulz after the assassination of Martin Luther King, suggesting that the introduction of Black characters into the comic strip could help change the “vast sea of misunderstanding, fear, hate and violence.” After much introspection and consideration, Schulz felt this was a step he could take authentically and introduced Franklin in the summer of 1968, making history in the process.

Peanuts strip
Franklin’s first appearance in Peanuts, 1968

“It is incredibly moving to me that The Armstrong Project is intended to create positive change in the lives of young Black animators and artists — just as the character of Franklin did so many years ago,” said Jean Schulz, widow of Charles Schulz.

“Thank you to Peanuts Worldwide for this opportunity that is being afforded to Howard University students studying arts and graphic design,” said Denise Saunders Thompson, Assistant Dean, Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts. “The goal of our program is to develop an immense range of knowledge, skills and competencies in the areas of visual communication through cross-curricular experiences. We are grateful to our partners who help us to meet the needs of the students in preparation for careers in the art industry.”

“Many thanks to Peanuts Worldwide for its investment in Hampton University students and other HBCUs involved in this initiative,” said Hampton University Chancellor & Provost, Dr. JoAnn Haysbert. “The establishment of The Armstrong Project endowment will ensure our talented and bright students at Hampton studying the arts, communications, animation or entertainment will continue to receive a world-class education for life.”

Franklin recently featured in the original video Speak from the Heart, which debuted February 8 on Peanuts.com as part of the “Take Care with Peanuts” initiative. This animated shorts campaign promotes good global citizenship through three themes: Take care of yourself. Take care of each other. Take care of the Earth. In the video, Franklin loses all of his Valentines thanks to a strong gust of wind—but discovers that the Valentines’ true value comes not from the cards, but from his heartfelt messages to his friends. (Watch here.)

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