Spelman College Receives Largest Single Gift to HBCU

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Spelman College, a private women’s liberal arts college in Atlanta, has received the largest single donation ever awarded to an HBCU (historically Black college or university).

The $100 million award comes from billionaire couple Ronda Stryker, director and granddaughter of the founder of the medical technology company Stryker Corp., and her husband, William Johnson, founder and chairman of Greenleaf Trust, a wealth management firm. Stryker has served as a Spelman trustee since 1997.

Of the $100 million, $75 million will go to endowed scholarships to attract future students while removing financial barriers, according to the institution. The additional $25 million will be used to develop an academic focus on public policy and democracy, improve student housing, and provide flexible funding to meet strategic needs, Spelman announced.

“We are invigorated and inspired by this incredible act of generosity,” said Helene Gayle, president of Spelman College. “This gift is a critical step in our school’s mission to eliminate financial barriers to starting and finishing a Spelman education. We can’t thank Ronda Stryker enough for her selflessness and support as both a trustee and friend. There’s no doubt that Spelman College is better because of her.”

The news comes as HBCUs continue to report having significantly smaller endowments compared to other institutions. According to a 2020 report by the Brookings Institution, the 10 largest HBCU endowments totaled just $2 billion, compared to $200 billion across top predominantly White institutions.

The United Negro College Fund recently announced a major milestone with a $100 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., the largest unrestricted private donation in the organization’s history. This significant grant benefits its 37 member colleges and universities, including Spelman.