Spelman College has set the most ambitious fundraising goal in the 128-year existence of the historically Black women’s institution: $150 million by 2015.
President Beverly Daniel Tatum says the school’s capital campaign announced this week would help educate 5,000 women, many of them first-generation college students, over the next decade.
“The economy is not as robust as we wish it were, but there are still individuals ready and willing to invest in human capital,” Tatum said. “Now more than ever, our nation needs the talent of the kind of women we have at Spelman.”
Tatum said she is encouraged that Spelman is already more than halfway toward its goal, having raised $80 million during the silent phase of fundraising, beginning in 2008, when Spelman quietly sought funds from loyal supporters.
Annual tuition at Spelman is $20,926. Spelman’s endowment stands at more than $351 million — among the largest for historically Black colleges — and is a source of financial aid for students. Many of them need it: 44 percent of Spelman students are eligible for the federal Pell Grant, a key indicator of economic hardship.
Tatum said she is especially focused on resources to help ensure that current students aren’t forced to drop out due to financial need.
“I’m worried about the student who finds herself in her sophomore or junior year in a very difficult place where she has run out of money and she hasn’t completed her education,” Tatum said. “That is the worst possible scenario. It may as well be $12 million if you don’t know where you’re going to get it from.”
Campaign co-chair Veronica Biggins, a 1968 Spelman alumna, said student, faculty and alumnae giving is up, and giving is becoming more a part of the Spelman culture.
“We must all take responsibility for giving back,” Biggins said. “The need is great, and the need is now. I tell my sisters, ‘That pair of shoes, you don’t need them. You need to give that money to Spelman College.’”