Spelman College Gifted The Largest HBCU Donation In History— $100M—To Mark 100 Years Since Its Naming
ATLANTA, GEORGIA – MAY 16: Spelman College graduates participate in 2020 & 2021 Spelman College Commencement at Bobby Dodd Stadium on May 16, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. Spelman commencement activities took place over 2 ceremonies for each graduating classes. The 2020 commencement exercises were postponed last year because of the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images)

Spelman College has changed the lives of countless Black women and girls for more than a century. Now, they’re making another historic leap once again.

The respected institution recently announced its receipt of a $100 million gift – the largest single donation ever to an HBCU. It was made by businesswoman and philanthropist Ronda Stryker and her husband, William Johnston, Chairman of Greenleaf Trust.

A Spelman College Trustee for nearly 30 years, Stryker has tirelessly demonstrated her dedication to bridging opportunity gaps many Black women come up against, and this latest move is no different.

“We are invigorated and inspired by this incredible act of generosity,” said Dr. Helene Gayle, president of Spelman College. “This gift is a critical step in our school’s mission to eliminate financial barriers to starting and finishing a Spelman education. We can’t thank Ronda Stryker enough for her selflessness and support as both a trustee and friend. There’s no doubt that Spelman College is better because of her.”

The historic donation comes at a time when HBCUs are notoriously underfunded and overlooked as compared to PWIs.

Data shows HBCUs have been underfunded by $12 billion according to an analysis from the U.S. Department of Education. It has also been found that just two states, Ohio and Delaware, were found to have received equitable funding for HBCUs while other states, particularly those in the south, had funding chasms that spanned between $172 million to $2.14 billion when put up against mostly white schools. This gift is a demonstration that Black schools are just as worthy of substantial investment as the others.

The $100 million also helps commemorate t he 100 years since Spelman’s official naming in 1924.

“$75 million of the $100 million will go to endowed scholarships for future students, helping Spelman College continue to attract the best and brightest students, while working to remove any financial barriers that prevent qualified students from enrolling at Spelman,” the official announcement states. “The remaining $25 million will be used to develop an academic focus on public policy and democracy, improve student housing and provide flexible funding to meet critical strategic needs.


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