Netflix co-founder, chair, and CEO Reed Hastings and his wife, Patty Quillin, have announced commitments totaling $120 million in support of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
The commitment from Hastings and Quillin — who signed the Giving Pledge in 2012 — includes $40 million each to Morehouse College, Spelman College, and the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). The largest gift in the 153-year-history of Morehouse College will support its Student Success Program, which was launched in 2019 to reduce or eliminate student loan debt for its undergraduates — and to which fellow Giving Pledger Robert F. Smith donated $34 million last year to pay off the Class of 2019's federal student loans — while the gift to Spelman College will fund a scholarship named for alumna Dovey Johnson Roundtree, a civil rights and criminal defense attorney whose groundbreaking 1955 bus desegregation case helped dismantle the practice of "separate but equal." The program will award full four-year scholarships to twenty first-year students annually over the next decade.
According to UNCF, which awards scholarships to more than ten thousand students a year and supports thirty-seven HBCUs across the United States, the median HBCU endowment is $15.7 million, compared with $36.8 million for non-HBCU endowments. "Dr. King famously reminded us that 'the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice'," said UNCF chief executive Michael L. Lomax. "I believe the arc does not bend toward justice on its own. We must bend it with all the strength and power we have....I feel a profound sense of responsibility to steward their incredible gift to maximum impact and ensure that it advances their belief in and commitment to the principle that 'Black lives matter'."
"We've supported these three extraordinary institutions for the last few years because we believe that investing in the education of Black youth is one of the best ways to invest in America's future," said Quillin and Hastings, who in 2016 created the $100 million education-focused Hastings Fund and awarded $1.5 million to UNCF. "HBCUs have a tremendous record, yet are disadvantaged when it comes to giving. Generally, white capital flows to predominantly white institutions, perpetuating capital isolation. We hope this additional $120 million donation will help more Black students follow their dreams and also encourage more people to support these institutions — helping to reverse generations of inequity in our country."
(Photo credit: Spelman College)