Black College Alumni Gifts on the Rise
Alumni giving to historically Black colleges and universities is growing, thanks in part to the Kresge Foundation through its HBCU Initiative, which works with HBCUs to strengthen their fund raising and institutional advancement.
While many media reports have questioned the strength of HBCU alumni giving, the Kresge HBCU Initiative highlights unprecedented growth in major gifts to many of the nation’s Black colleges.
“When we started the initiative in 1999, we had done substantial research that indicated the percentage of giving by HBCU alumni was not only low, but was primarily in small amounts, and a million-dollar gift was very, very rare,” said John E. Marshall III, president of the Kresge Foundation. “As African Americans are increasingly able to make philanthropic gifts, one of the primary objectives of the initiative was to increase the number of HBCU alumni making significant donations of $10,000 or more.”
The initiative’s success in meeting that objective was celebrated in a tribute to 29 HBCU alumni who made a combined $11.7 million in gifts over the last five years at the initiative’s Fourth Annual African American Donor’s Reception. More than 400 people gathered at The Coca-Cola Co., to celebrate unprecedented growth in the number and size of major gifts by HBCU alumni.
Since 2000, the Kresge HBCU Initiative has honored HBCU alumni who have donated a total of $11.3 million to 26 HBCUs — large and small, public and private — at the African American Donor’s Reception. Previous receptions have honored between two and four donors.
“This year, we wanted to spotlight the many major gifts made by alumni at several HBCUs,” said Lynn Huntley, president of the Southern Education Foundation, which partners with Kresge to sponsor the Initiative. “These gifts are a powerful example of growing HBCU alumni commitment and support.”
A special highlight of the evening was a tribute to William H. Gray, III, outgoing president and chief executive officer of The College Fund/UNCF, for his strong, visionary leadership and for raising 70 percent of the nearly $3 billion raised by UNCF in its 60-year history.
Special recognition was also given to Atlanta resident Carl Ware, who retired as executive vice president, public affairs and administration at The Coca-Cola Co. in 2003, and his wife, Mary Ware, who made a $3.5 million gift to Clark Atlanta University, and to Dr. Eunice Walker Johnson, wife of John H. Johnson, publisher and chairman of Johnson Publishing Co. Inc. and mother of Linda Johnson Rice, president and CEO of Johnson Publishing Co., for a $1 million gift to Talladega University in Alabama.
The Kresge HBCU Initiative’s Learning Institute is an annual education and networking event for advancement professionals from the nation’s HBCUs. Supported by an $18 million grant from the Kresge Foundation in partnership with the Southern Education Foundation, the Kresge HBCU Initiative is designed to strengthen institutional advancement operations in historically Black colleges and universities. The five-year initiative began in 2000.
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