If there was a short analysis of the 2021 HBCU endowment list it would be this – still not enough. Despite record breaking donations toward HBCUs from Mackenzie Scott and others in 2020-2021, the PWI-HBCU endowment gap among the Top 10 PWIs and HBCUs continues to balloon, a gap that stands at a staggering $121 to $1. This despite a 35 percent increase by the Top 10 HBCU endowments from last year. Simply put, winning the philanthropic “lottery” is not enough and it never will be when it comes to closing the endowment gap. The rabbit never beats the tortoise to put it another way. HBCUs must find a way to find consistent capital infusions over time as opposed to lighting quick one-offs.
The HBCU donor pool is simply too small and too poor (relatively speaking) to close the endowment gap. Without increasing the percentage of African Americans college students who go to HBCUs from 10 percent to 25-30 percent, it does not bode well for HBCUs to be able to close the endowment gap through traditional means. HBCUs and their alumni are going to have to be more creative and must be so expeditiously. While this is the most HBCU endowments we have ever reported with $100 million or greater, increasing from five in 2020 to seven in 2021, PWIs saw an 25 percent increase in the number of endowments over $2 billion going from 55 to 69 and an equally 25 percent rise in the number of endowments over $1 billion going from 114 to 142. This while HBCUs are still waiting for their first billion dollar endowment.
To that point, the race between Howard and Spelman is tightening. Last year’s $334 million lead that Howard held over Spelman has shrunk to $265 million. At one point it seemed a foregone conclusion that Howard would reach the milestone first (The Race To The First Billion Dollar HBCU Endowment: Can Anyone Catch Howard?), that is no longer the case. Howard’s public relations over the past year have not been favorable and while many people say all press is good press – not when you are an African American institution. With Hampton and North Carolina A&T’s departure from the MEAC, no HBCU conference (CIAA, GCAC, MEAC, SIAC, SWAC) is dominating the Top 10 and the list is split 50/50 between private and public HBCUs as well. Arguably this is the most diverse Top 10 HBCU endowment list since we first began publishing, but one thing remains feverishly consistent and that is there is a lot of work to be done to ensure HBCU endowments and therefore the institutions of HBCUs are sustainable and thriving.
- Top 10 HBCU Endowment Total – $2.7 billion
- Top 10 PWI Endowment Total – $328.7 billion
- Number of PWIs Above $2 billion – 69
- Number of PWIs Above $1 billion – 142
- HBCU Median – $97.8 million (33.7%)
- NACUBO Median – $200.4 million (25.8%)
- HBCU Average – $203.8 million (53.6%)
- NACUBO Average – $1.2 billion (35.2%)
All values are in millions ($000)*
1. Howard University – $795,203 (11.6%)
2. Spelman College – $530,399 (40.3%)
3. Hampton University – $379,992 (35.4%)
4. Morehouse College – $278,073 (77.0%)
5. Meharry Medical College – $186,943 (19.3%)
6. North Carolina A&T State University – $157,336 (113.2%)
7. Florida A&M University – $118,635 (24.4%)
8. Morgan State University – $97,783 (162.9%)
9. Tennessee State University – $91,120 (33.2%)
10. The University of the Virgin Islands – $82,863 (23.9%)
- Norfolk State University – $79,865 (133.9%)
- Johnson C. Smith University – $75,167 (14.2%)
- Virginia State University – $75,062 (33.7%)
- Winston-Salem State University – $74,562 (48.6%)
- Fayetteville State University – $33,581 (33.1%)
*The change in market value does NOT represent the rate of return for the institution’s investments. Rather, the change in the market value of an endowment from FY20 to FY21 reflects the net impact of:
1) withdrawals to fund institutional operations and capital expenses;
2) the payment of endowment management and investment fees;
3) additions from donor gifts and other contributions; and
4) investment gains or losses.
Take a look at how an endowment works. Not only scholarships to reduce the student debt burden but research, recruiting talented faculty & students, faculty salaries, and a host of other things can be paid for through a strong endowment. It ultimately is the lifeblood of a college or university to ensure its success generation after generation.