Inequities in funding for Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs) has been a deep-rooted issue in the American education system for decades.
While the venture capital industry has vowed for years to invest in more Black and people of color, Silicon Valley venture capital (VC) firm Base10 Partners is following through on that promise with a unique initiative bridging the gap between VC and higher learning.
A press release reports that Base10 Partners announced the raise of a $250 million fund for an initiative known as the Advancement Initiative — which aims to invest in tech companies and then take a portion of the profit from the fund and donate it to HBCU endowments and student scholarships.
Base10 will reportedly create scholarships in the name of each of its portfolio companies to then fund the education of HBCU STEM students.
Since debuting this past March, the fund has already completed eight investments in several tech startups, including Attentive, Nubank, Brex, Plaid, Aurora Solar, Wealthsimple, CircleCI and KeepTruckin. Each of the companies’ CEOs have then personally prioritized taking an investment from the Advancement Initiative in “heavily oversubscribed rounds” to assist in generating wealth for underrepresented minority communities and college students.
“The Advancement Initiative creates a clear path for us to contribute to the success of underrepresented minority students,” Plaid Co-founder and CEO Zach Perret noted in a statement, “who will go on to be the leaders and innovators of tomorrow, and we couldn’t be more excited to be participating.”
According to a press release, the fund’s LP base will consist of HBCUs along with participation from other minority organizations and mission-driven foundations who all play a valuable role in helping usher in underrepresented talent into the workforce.
HBCUs are responsible for being an enormous source of underrepresented minority talent in the U.S., producing nearly half of all STEM degrees for Black students. However, all 107 of their endowments only amount to just seven percent of Stanford University’s endowment. Through Base10’s ambitious initiative, these colleges will be able to make a real difference in supporting the futures of their students.
“We have been thinking about where to focus Base10’s efforts to do more good through strategic investments, and we believe supporting HBCUs is the most effective way for us to augment underrepresented minority talent in Silicon Valley,” Ade Ajao, co-founder and Managing Partner of Base10, said in a statement.
As of right now, the fund’s most notable HBCU limited partners include Howard University, Florida A&M University, Hampton University, and Tuskegee University, among others, in what is considered one of the largest commitments ever from HBCUs to a venture capital fund.
“With the Advancement Initiative, Base10 has built an outstanding mechanism for HBCUs to grow our endowments and give students previously inaccessible opportunities post-graduation,” Frank Bello, Chief Investment Officer at Howard University, said in a statement. “Howard is thrilled to be partnering with Base10 to continue to increase HBCUs’ impact on the black community through wealth creation and improving diversity in the tech industry.”
Base10 Partners is setting an example of how the venture capital world can start playing a more active role in Black and brown communities beyond providing funding for startups. Black college students are tomorrow’s future thought-leaders so investing in their futures is just as important as investing in their businesses.
For more information about the Advancement Initiative, click here.