A coalition of 40 Historically Black Colleges and Universities has been presented with a generous gift.
On Wednesday, Sept. 13, philanthropic funders Blue Meridian Partners invested $124 million towards the HBCU Transformation Project. The contribution will be used to increase enrollment, graduation rates, and employment rates for HBCU graduates.
“This very significantly scaled grant from them signals to the philanthropic community that this is a really good investment to make,” funding overseer and president of UNCF Michael Lomax, said according to the Associated Press.
The HBCU Transformation Project will “deliver permanent, sustainable, and systemic improvement: more students, more graduates, bigger endowments, and new opportunities to advance economic mobility,” said James Runcie, CEO and co-founder of the Partnership for Education Advancement, BET reported. The infrastructure enhancements are expected to “impact student outcomes well into the future.”
To maintain funding for the HBCU Transformation Project, universities must achieve specified enrollment and graduation rate targets, AP News reported. Participating HBCUs have been granted broad leeway to use the funding towards “ambitious goals,” as long as a business case is presented.
South Carolina State University used a portion of the first round of funding towards a customer relationship management platform. The purchase supported the integration of enrollment and financial aid applications.
“This flexible funding has really allowed us to probably move five to seven years faster than the pace we were on,” the school’s president, Alexander Conyers, said. The university saw a freshman enrollment increase from 371 in 2019 to 1,200 this year. Additional funding went towards updating the university’s website to bump it higher up in the search.
The coalition has already received $75 million from Blue Meridian since 2020, a contribution towards the enrollment improvement and other core operations.
“Clearly, we’re just beginning this work. Institutions have been underinvested and need more investment, and we believe that we can play a catalytic role in bringing resources to the table,” Shelton said.
Other contributions to the project have included $17.6 million in funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, $4.5 million from JP Morgan Chase and $1 million from Capital One.