HBCUs Gifted $100M, Largest Unrestricted Gift In 80-Year History of the UNCF

The generous gift is part of the Lilly Endowment’s $1 billion capital campaign to boost HBCUS financial health and improve student attendance.

The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) announced that HBCUs will receive a $100 Million gift from Lilly Endowment Inc. In 80 years of existence, the gift is the largest donation to the 37 HBCUs affiliated with the UNCF, reports The Hill.

The UNCF is currently raising funds for a $1 billion capital campaign that will enhance student scholarships, HBCU endowments, technology and research for HBCUs, cash reserves, and endowed funds for UNCF and  to support its annual campaign.”

Marc Barnes, senior vice president of capital campaign at UNCF, shared the importance of receiving the generous gift from the Lily Endowment and how it would impact the future of HBCUs.

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“This grant from Lilly Endowment is far-reaching and long-lasting. It will change the financial trajectory of many HBCUs for many years to come,” Barnes said. “We are incredibly grateful for Lilly Endowment’s continued support of UNCF and higher education.”

N. Clay Robbins, Lilly Endowment’s chairman and CEO, praised the work of the UNCF and HBCUs in a statement.

“The UNCF programs we have helped fund in the past have been successful, and we are confident that the efforts to be supported by this bold campaign will have a great impact on UNCF’s member institutions and their students’ lives,” Robbins said.

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According to a study conducted by The Century Foundation, private non-HBCU endowments are about seven times the size of private HBCU endowments, on a per-student basis. Additionally, public non-HBCU institutions are three times larger than their public HBCU counterparts.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Michael Lomax, CEO and president of the UNCF said that gifts from the Lilly Endowment can close the wealth gap and help to sustain HBCUs for years to come.

“Black families have fewer assets than non-Black families,” Lomax said. “They live paycheck to paycheck. Many of our smaller HBCUs live on the tuition revenue semester by semester. They need a cushion. This is that cushion.”

Lomax also noted that other philanthropic entities should follow the example of Lilly who trusted UNCF and invested in its vision by making an unrestricted gift.

“They’re trusting the judgment of the United Negro College Fund to make a decision about where best to deploy this very significant and sizable gift,” Lomax added. “We don’t get a lot of gifts like that.”

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