The HBCU Transformation Project, a joint effort by the United Negro College Fund, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and the Partnership for Education Advancement, has proclaimed the receipt of a formidable $124 million donation from the philanthropic entity, Blue Meridian Partners.
The munificent donation aims to boost enrollment numbers, optimize operational efficiency, bolster institutional infrastructures, and stimulate economic progression among some of the nation’s foremost Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), as stated by the HBCU Transformation Project.
Currently, forty HBCUs collaborate with the project, a pioneering endeavor that was instituted in 2022, with projections of welcoming an increased number of schools before the year concludes.
In a conversation with CNN, an exhilarated Michael Lomax, UNCF President and CEO, expressed his gratification for the substantial investment towards the promising futures of Black students. Lomax conveyed his interpretation of the contribution, stating, “This is more than a donation, it’s an investment aimed at facilitating improved results, broadening enrollment, boosting student retention, and escalating graduation rates.”
He went on to emphasize that the generous financial aid from Blue Meridian Partners is only one component of the comprehensive efforts required to bring about a transformative change in HBCUs. “Our institutions need to establish a robust financial framework. Although we have experienced commendable support in recent years, the prior 150 years saw scant or negligible assistance,” he said.
The latest $124 million infusion follows Blue Meridian’s initial pledge of $60 million towards the HBCU Transformation Project, a commitment targeted at buttressing high-performing and potential-rich HBCUs.
According to the HBCU Transformation Project, there has been a substantial surge in HBCU enrollment post the zenith of the Covid-19 crisis. Member institutions, such as Morehouse College based in Atlanta, have tactfully utilized the funding to train educators in online pedagogical methodologies following the cessation of physical classes during lockdowns.
Prior to 2020, the number of HBCUs proffering online courses was rather limited, conveyed Melvin Foster, associate provost for academic success at Morehouse College to CNN. “However, the pandemic and the swift funding extended by the UNCF transformed almost all HBCUs to online teaching institutions seemingly overnight,” Foster elaborated.
He added that the investment would also be directed towards revamping classrooms, student facilities, and updating the educational software deployed in classrooms.
Although the donation serves as a significant stride towards empowering Black students with enhanced educational prospects, Lomax contends that “more financial contribution is necessary.” He concluded, “In order to offer quality education sans crippling student debt, HBCUs require a greater measure of investment.”