CBx Daily

The Billion Dollar Upside To HBCUs Receiving History Making Donation

Aug 14

By Lesley Green-Rennis

  • MacKenzie Scott gifted $160M  to 7 HBCUs
  • HBCUs produce almost 20% of African American graduates

The third richest woman in the world, MacKenzie Scott, recently donated  $160 million to seven historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). These havens for intellectuals of melanin to congregate in higher learning and self pride actually generate $14.8 billion in economic impact annually. As HBCUs strive to secure their financial futures amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, how far will Scott’s gift go to ensure their long-term economic vitality?

Why This Matters: Money spent in, around, and by the nation’s HBCUs along with their students drives economic growth both on and off campus.  For every one dollar spent by HBCUs and their students, $1.44 is generated for local and regional economies and their graduates earn an additional $927,000 over their lifetime because of their credentials.  However, with a greater share of low-income students, HBCUs have more students with unmet financial needs, 80% graduate with student loan debt. This is one area where Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon (AMZN -039%) CEO Jeff Bezos, and her philanthropic endeavor can have a huge impact. Alleviating the strain of a student loan for an enthusiastic college graduate can help elevate the black community through capital collective strength and generational wealth.

HBCU graduates earn an additional $927,000 over their lifetime because of their credentials

In 2017, there were 102 HBCUs in 19 states, DC and the Virgin Islands. The total revenue for that year was $8.3 billion, with $1.9 billion from student tuition and fees. Unlike their institutional PWI counterparts, HBCUs have less cushion to weather economic storms. As the pandemic continues, they have been forced to reallocate resources while keeping students, staff, and faculty safe, making it even less likely that they can assist students financially.  

Situational Awareness: Scott’s gift will be split among Hampton University, Howard University, Morehouse College, Spelman College, Tuskegee University, Xavier University, and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. For some of these prestigious institutions it was their largest single gift ever. Scott acknowledged these institutions are “tackling complex challenges that will require sustained effort over many years, while simultaneously addressing consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.” Her generous gift will help HBCUs continue to serve as economic engines and generators of Black wealth.    

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