The nation’s largest Historically Black College and University (HBCU) just set an all-time record for fundraising.
According to NPR, North Carolina A&T State University (N.C. A&T) has raised $88 million since its fiscal year began last summer, which is nearly six times what the university normally fundraises annually, and it’s not even over yet.
The university’s new fundraising brings its total to $181.4 million, completing its eight-year campaign, according to an announcement from administrators. Including its endowment, N.C. A&T’s assets are also now listed at $153 million, making it the most of any public HBCU ever.
“There has not been a year like that ever in our history,” Todd Simmons — N.C. A&T’s associate vice chancellor for university relations — told the NPR. “Nor has there been a year like that in the history of nearly any other public HBCU in America.”
The outlet reports that the uptick in donations and support from both private donors and large corporations came as a result of the social unrest that occurred following the murder of George Floyd last year. One of the largest supporters was author and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott — better known as the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
Last year, Scott became the wealthiest woman in the world after Amazon stock soared during the pandemic. That same year, she donated over $4 billion to 384 organizations across the nation and more than $1.7 billion toward over a dozen HBCUs — including Howard University, Prairie View A&M University and N.C. A&T.
According to Simmons, Scott’s $45 million gift to N.C. A&T came with no strings attached, giving the school a rare chance to have its leaders spend the money as they see fit.
“[Scott’s] message to us was that ‘I’ve watched A&T. I’ve watched its development. I’ve done my research, and I have full faith in the leadership of the university to use this money to its very best effect,'” he said to NPR.
Other HBCUs have also had outstanding fundraising this year, and The Thurgood Marshall College Fund — which advocates for both public and private funding for public HBCUs — has reported large donations for the many universities it represents.
Thurgood Marshall College Fund President Harry L. Williams now hopes that the new fundraising will continue to raise awareness around HBCUs’ contributions and encourage a need to invest in Black communities.
According to him, the next area of focus is to sustain the fundraising boom past this present moment so HBCUs can keep this momentum going.
“We don’t want it to be a one hit wonder,” he says to NPR. “We don’t want it to be just ‘Hey, this was one of those outlier years and you’ll never see this again.’ We’re working very hard to keep this as part of the dialogue.”