Jan 18, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Spelman College receives historic $100M donation, largest ever to an HBCU

Students at the Spelman College campus in Atlanta, Georgia, US, on Friday, Oct. 13

Students at the Spelman College campus in Atlanta, Georgia in Oct. 2023. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Georgia's Spelman College announced Thursday that it has received a historic $100 million donation, the largest ever made to a historically Black college or university (HBCU).

Why it matters: The gift will go toward endowing scholarships for future students, improving student housing, developing an "academic focus on public policy and democracy," and other critical needs, the college said in a press release.

  • "We are invigorated and inspired by this incredible act of generosity. This gift is a critical step in our school's mission to eliminate financial barriers to starting and finishing a Spelman education," Spelman College President Helene Gayle said in a statement.

The big picture: The gift comes as Spelman — a women's liberal arts college in Atlanta — marks 100 years since its official naming in 1924, per the release.

  • The donation was made by Ronda Stryker, a businesswoman and philanthropist, and her husband, William Johnston, chairman of Greenleaf Trust.
  • Stryker has served as a Spelman College Trustee since 1997.

What they're saying: "This is just such a historic moment, and it will mean so much not only to the girls who are at Spelman now, but for young women far into the future. It's just amazing," Gayle said in an interview on "CBS Mornings" on Thursday.

Zoom out: Many HBCUs have seen an uptick in donations in recent years amid reinvigorated racial justice movements, per AP.

  • Enrollments at HBCUs have also risen since the COVID-19 pandemic, according to CNN.

Go deeper: How a group of VCs are getting HBCUs to invest in their funds

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