Historically black colleges and universities receive 178 times less funding than League of Ivy schools, according to a study released Tuesday. The study, conducted by philanthropic research groups Candid and ABFE, found that eight Ivy League schools received $5.5 billion in 2019 from the top 1,000 U.S. foundations, while America’s 99 HBCUs received just $45 million. .
“Despite HBCU achievements, philanthropy funds these higher education institutions at significantly lower rates than comparable ones [Predominately White institutions]. This leaves HBCUs with inadequate funding to support their operations, educational programs, infrastructure and amenities,” said Susan Taylor Batten, ABFE president and CEO.
One of the key findings of the study was that large US foundations steadily reduced support for HBCUs between 2002 and 2019, awarding $65 million to HBCUs in 2002 compared to $20 million less given in 2019. The HBCUs they also received fewer research-only grants than Ivy League Schools and other comparable institutions.
The study also found that on average, HBCUs received about two-thirds of what foundations gave to “similarly located institutions.” While HBCUs had an average of $620,073 in annual grant dollars per institution, comparison schools received an average of $968,988,
Even within the 99 HBCUs across the United States, there were huge disparities in philanthropic efforts. The study found that the top 10 funded HBCUs received more than half of total foundation funding across all HBCUs, and that private HBCUs received more than double the grant dollars of public HBCUs.
“HBCUs have been successful so far with limited resourcesemphasizing their value, power and potential,” the study reads, highlighting the important role of HBCUs and also highlighting the importance of providing more comprehensive funding to such institutions.
“By committing to funding HBCUs, developing lasting relationships with them, and increasing HBCU capacity, foundations will strengthen HBCUs to continue — and build on — the remarkable impact they’ve made on Black communities and the nation.”
An HBCU is “federally defined as a college or university founded before 1964 with a clear mission to educate black people,” according to the study, and HBCUs play a crucial role in addressing systemic racism in America.
“Blacks have routinely experienced difficulty accessing formal education in the United States through white or white institutions. During the legalized slavery of blacks, social laws and prohibitions prohibited their education,” the study reads.
Before the Civil War, there were only 28 college-educated black people living in the United States, with most of the HBCUs founded in the decades surrounding the Civil War. The final HBCU was established in 1962, and while the institutions admit students of all races and ethnicities, the schools still serve a majority black population.
In 2021, 75% of HBCU’s student bodies were black, yet the schools account for only 3% of the total number of colleges and universities in the United States. Even so, “HBCUs represent 80% of black judges, 50% of black doctors, and 50% of black lawyers,” according to the UNCF.
Some HBCU respondents in the study attributed the underfunding to a lack of developed relationships between schools and foundations, while others said systemic racism played a role in the disparity.
Because the data was collected in 2019, the study does not account for the impact the COVID-19 pandemic may have had on US college and university funding. The study was also conducted before the 2020 killing of George Floyd that sparked nationwide protests, and may have led to a 453% increase in foundation funding to HBCUs that year, according to preliminary data reported by the. ‘Associated Press.
In terms of recommendations for the future, Candid and ABFE suggested that foundations should work to provide consistent funding for HBCUs, which the groups called “a very safe investment” through relationship building. The foundations should also support both the infrastructure and capacity of HBCUs, which improves the quality of life for students, and provide “general operational support to enable HBCUs to establish their own programs”. Foundations should also work to “uplift and leverage” HBCU resources.
“This report serves as a clear call to our industry to correct the systemic philanthropic funding disparity facing HBCUs and to invest appropriately in the future of these institutions,” said Batten.
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