Celebrities’ recent contributions to Howard University since the 2020 Black Lives Matter Movement have helped the university’s credit rating in the municipal bond market.
In June, Bad Boy Records founder Sean “Diddy” Combs pledged $1 million to the HBCU at the 2022 BET Awards. In 2020, the university received a whopping $40 million gift from Mackenzie Scott, the ex-wife of former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
According to a Moody’s Investors Service report, Howard University’s total cash and investment have increased to $880 million, a 21% increase in fiscal year 2021 as the endowment return, federal support during the pandemic, and $64 million in gifts and donations helped support the rise. That has led Moody’s to change Howard’s issuer rating from Ba2 to Ba1.
“The upgrade of the issuer rating to Ba1 incorporates the university’s improving operating performance, more effective enrollment management, revenue growth and liquidity gains. Increased federal, state and private funds for Howard reflects a shifting societal trend for greater philanthropic and governmental financial support of the mission of minority-serving institutions, a supportive credit element and key driver of the rating action,” Dennis Gephardt, lead analyst at Moody’s, wrote.
Howard University’s outlook rating has also been upgraded from negative to stable.
HBCUs, in general, have received significant donations in 2020 and partnerships from a wide range of businesses, including technology, banking, film and television, and amusement, to develop Black talent and establish college-to-career pipelines.
HBCU schools consistently offer the best in Black talent. According to the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), HBCUs graduate 40% of all Black members of Congress and Black engineers, 50% of Black lawyers, and 80% of Black judges.
“It really brings awareness, not just in terms of Howard as a brand, as a top higher education institution in terms of ranking, but also its mission in terms of being one of the premier HBCUs in the country,” Stephen Graham, Howard University’s chief financial officer told Bloomberg last month.