On average, historically Black college and universities (HBCUs) received 178 times less funding from foundations than Ivy League schools in 2019, according to a report from research group Candid and ABFE, a nonprofit advocate for investments in Black communities, the Associated Press reported.
The May 2 study found that the eight Ivy League schools received $5.5 billion from foundations in 2019. In contrast, 99 HBCUs got $45 million. Additionally, foundation support of HBCUs declined 30% between 2002-2019. Some study participants attributed systemic racism for the underfunding, while others cited limited connections between philanthropists and HBCU leaders.
“Philanthropy tends to fund organizations that they know,” ABFE President Susan Taylor Batten said. “Philanthropy does not know HBCUs and has little knowledge about the importance of HBCUs in the education of Black people and others. Additionally, I believe that philanthropy has a false sense that the quality of research and education is superior at (predominantly white institutions) in comparison to the quality of research and education at HBCUs.”
HBCUs have contributed immensely to the number of educated Black students. They account for 80% of Black judges, 50% of Black doctors, and 50% of Black lawyers, according to the UNCF. And studies show that Black HBCU graduates earn $900,000 more in their lifetimes than Black graduates from predominantly white institutions or Black workers without college degrees.
In 2020, the year of the racial reckoning following the killing of George Floyd, preliminary estimates showed a 453% increase in foundation funding to HBCUs.
“I think understanding the context for the historic disinvestment sheds new light on this new funding and also calls into question whether that new funding is going to be sustained or is just a blip followed by declines,” said Grace Sato, Candid’s director of research. “Shining a light on the issue of underfunding is important and necessary.”