Robert F. Smith, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan, Frank Baker and William Pickard Donate to HBCUs

Top List of Black Donors to HBCUs

For decades Black leaders in business, entertainment, education, and other fields have been the main sources of philanthropic donations to HBCUs.

Billionaire philanthropist and novelist MacKenzie Scott’s $560 million donation last year to 23 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) made headlines across the country at a time when racial equity has become front-page news. However, for decades Black leaders in business, entertainment, education, and other fields have been the main sources of philanthropic donations to HBCUs.


A recent Washington Post story found that Black Americans donate a higher share of their wealth than their white counterparts – to the tune of around $11 billion each year. Given their cultural and educational importance to the Black community, HBCUs are the repository of much of these donations with a number of household names – and some you may not know – making big-dollar contributions to these institutions.


Here are some of the most prominent Black philanthropists to donate to HBCUS:


Robert F. Smith – Chairman & CEO, Vista Equity Partners


Smith, the billionaire investor behind the software private equity firm Vista Equity Partners, drew widespread praise in May 2019 when he announced that he and his family would pay off the entire student loan debt of the 2019 Morehouse College graduating class of 396 students. Along with paying off the student debt, Smith’s $35 million donation also helped establish the Student Success Program to reduce or eliminate debt for all Morehouse grads. The private equity guru also gave the school an additional $1.5 million to create the Robert Frederick Smith Scholars Program and build a park on campus.


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