Historically black colleges and universities are seeing an upsurge in support and donations.
Last fiscal year, Spelman College in Atlanta raised a record $48 million in donations, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. That’s more than triple the prior year’s total of $14.5 million.
Spelman recently announced that it received its largest single gift from living donors, trustee Ronda Stryker and her husband, William Johnston: $30 million.
Other schools, such as Morehouse College, have seen similar upticks in giving.
Morehouse reported that it raised about $3 million at its annual gala this year, surpassing the $1 million raised last year.
At Morehouse School of Medicine, the number of million-dollar donations rose from one, between fiscal years 2011-14, to nine, between 2015-18, the Atlanta newspaper reported.
Clark Atlanta University and Paine College each received its first million-dollar check this year.
The nation’s historically black colleges and universities have seen a rise in giving, from individual contributions by alumni to celebrities like Beyonce giving scholarships to students and signing big checks.
Private giving to the nation’s 101 accredited historically black colleges and universities increased about 21 percent in the two most recent years of available information, from $265.2 million to $320.6 million, according to federal data.
The total, though, is a fraction of giving to all American colleges and universities, which totaled $43.6 billion in 2017, according to an annual study by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. Historically black colleges and universities received an average of about $1,100 per student in 2016. By contrast, Emory University, Georgia’s largest private university, received an average of about $42,000 per student in gifts in 2017.
School leaders, graduates and students say the increased philanthropic interest stems from a variety of factors. More donors are interested in supporting HBCUs amid national conversations about racially charged issues such as deadly police encounters with African-Americans.
Also, the schools are becoming more adept at fundraising, with many using social media and other methods to engage potential donors. Also, the troubles faced by some of the schools have prompted responses by alumni and supporters to give, said Michael Thurmond, Paine College’s board chairman-elect.
“It’s stimulated a response to supporters to engage and becoming more active,” said Thurmond, DeKalb County’s chief executive officer.