National Institute on Aging

HBCUs Receive Only a Tiny Fraction of Higher Education Grants From Major Foundations

A new report from the nonprofit organization Candid and the Association of Black Foundation Executives finds that the nation’s historically Black colleges and universities received only a tiny share of the financial support given to higher education by the nation’s foundations. The report found that large U.S. foundations steadily decreased their support of HBCUs between 2002 and 2019. They awarded $65 million to HBCUs in 2002; by 2019, giving decreased 30 percent to $45 million.

Some other key findings from the report include that from 2015 to 2019:

* Among the 1,607 foundations that supported HBCUs, the median aggregate dollar amount awarded was $11,000. The median number of HBCUs supported was one.

* The eight Ivy League schools received a combined $5.5 billion in philanthropic dollars compared to HBCUs’ $303 million. The average Ivy League institution received 178 times more foundation funding than the average HBCU.

* HBCUs also received proportionately fewer dollars earmarked for research when compared to Ivy League and similarly situated institutions.

* Among HBCUs, there were clear “haves” and “have nots” when it came to philanthropic support. The top 10 funded HBCUs received more than half of all foundation funding to the HBCU community.

A preliminary examination of 2020 grant data indicates a sizable increase in HBCU funding from foundations. The murder of George Floyd and the subsequent heightened racial justice movement caused the world, including the philanthropic sector, to pay attention to systemic racial inequities that disproportionately impact Black communities. Thus, funders began acknowledging and/or prioritizing racial equity and diversity in their grantmaking, according to the study.

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