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HBCU Money’s 2021 Top 10 HBCU Endowments

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.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • 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%)

OTHERS REPORTING:

*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.

SOURCE: NACUBO

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.

Can NFTs Help HBCUs Close The Endowment Gap?

Black people lived right by the railroad tracks, and the train would shake their houses at night. I would hear it as a boy, and I thought: I’m gonna make a song that sounds like that. – Little Richards

The individual, familial, community, and institutional wealth gaps between African America and all other groups continues to widen. Despite the consequential donations from Mackenzie Scott and Michael Bloomberg in 2020 to HBCUs it is simply not enough consistently and overwhelming enough to put out the fire. That fire being the HWCU-HBCU endowment gap, which is over $100 to $1 – and widening. Ironically, African America is often standing there with a water hose in their hand watching their house burn while waiting on their neighbor to bring a bucket of water over and help. Why do we say African America has the water hose? By HBCU Money estimates, African America’s tuition revenue value to all colleges is worth $60 billion annually – only $6 billion of that goes makes it way to HBCUs. There are 100 plus HBCUs, but only two have institutional banking relationships with African American owned banks. In other words, there are things that if we just looked inwardly there would be substantive change happening. Instead, we continue to wait for the “lottery” of other’s grace to befall upon us. And to that point, one of the greatest financial opportunities of our lifetime maybe falling upon us to use a resource within our institutions – our creativity.

It is no secret that African American creativity drives American culture. African American creativity has and is often exploited to the social and financial benefit of other groups. There maybe no greater example of that than hip-hop (and the music industry in general) where African American musicians created a genre of music that is now global in reach, but very little of it is actually owned by African Americans. Enter, the internet. Enter, NFTs. The internet is not flat nor is it democratized – after all even on the internet all of the mediums like Amazon, Facebook, Alphabet, Twitter, Square, etc. none are owned by African Americans. However, there is an increasing amount of decentralization that seems to be taking root in pockets of the World Wide Web where opportunities can be staked out. For instance, had an HBCU endowment in July 2011 purchased 5,000 bitcoins which at the time were $13.91 for a total of $69,550, then that HBCU today would have a value of $330 million today. To the best of our knowledge, there are no HBCUs holding bitcoin or any other cryptocurrencies in their portfolio. And while there is still plenty of time to add cryptocurrencies to the portfolio, there is also a new opportunity that one could easily argue is the equivalent of buying cryptocurrencies ten years ago. The NFT.

NFTs or non-fungible tokens are “Non-fungible” more or less means that it’s unique and can not be replaced with something else. For example, a bitcoin is fungible — trade one for another bitcoin, and you’ll have exactly the same thing. A one-of-a-kind trading card, however, is non-fungible. If you traded it for a different card, you’d have something completely different.”, says Mitchell Clark from The Verge. NFTs also work off the Ethereum blockchain, Ethereum being a cryptocurrency and blockchains are a digital distributed, decentralized, public ledger that exists across a network. So what can be a NFT? Again, Mitchell Clark from The Verge, “NFTs can really be anything digital (such as drawings, music, your brain downloaded and turned into an AI), but a lot of the current excitement is around using the tech to sell digital art.” NFTs are already showing their potential. A 14-year old girl made over $1 million from selling 8,000 NFTs according to Business Insider. The most expensive NFT sold to date went for $69 million at Christie’s. An amount that would still be greater than any donation ever given to an HBCU. Now imagine unlocking the creativity that exist on HBCU campuses with students, faculty, and staff.

This could ultimately be a win-win for everyone involved if setup properly. HBCUs can provide the space, hardware, infrastructure, and other support needed while students, faculty, and staff can provide the immense creative capital that we know. Unlocking African America creativity on campuses could quite literally means tens if not hundreds of billions into African American families, communities, and HBCUs. The incentive for HBCUs to invest in this infrastructure is simple. Financially more stable graduates, improved retention rates, potentially higher alumni donor rates, and a new stream of income for endowments.

Students could see themselves earning enough to reduce or eliminate student borrowing costs. An immense hinderance to HBCU graduates creating generational wealth for themselves and their family. This barrier to wealth also is something that it could be argued contributes to poor alumni donor giving at HBCUs. HBCU donations of significance often come from older HBCU alumni who tend to wait and give a large donation either at the end of life or through their estate once they have passed on. HBCU students on a whole as reflecting in HBCU Pell Grant numbers are coming from far more low-income backgrounds their PWI counterparts. Brookings reports that almost 60% of HBCU students expect $0 in family contributions (graph below) to their education as opposed to less than one-third for non-HBCU students. On the other end less than 6 percent of HBCU students expect their family to contribute at least $19,300 to their education versus over 20 percent of non-HBCU students. This means that despite HBCUs on average costing significantly less than their PWI counterparts, HBCU students are still more likely to graduate with student loan debt and significant student loan debt loads. The most recent HBCU Money report showing that 86 percent of HBCU graduates finish with debt and a median of over $34,000 in student loan debt versus 40 percent and $24,000 in student loan debt for those coming from Top 50 endowed colleges and universities.

For HBCUs, the previous mentioned is great for their long-term sustainability, but in this case there is a huge financial reward to be had by HBCU endowments today. By providing the infrastructure, helping ensure the intellectual property rights, and more – HBCUs can create financial partnerships with students, faculty, and staff. This means that in the same way there is NIL (name, image, likeness) happening in collegiate sports, HBCUs too could use these partnerships as a means to recruit more African American faculty who often cringe at the pay rates at HBCUs. It also means that if a student, faculty, or staff produces an NFT for example that sells for $100,000, then potentially on a 50-50 split that the HBCU’s endowment just increased by $50,000. There is also the opportunity to have a foray into the entrepreneurship that is already taking root in the NFT as well as the supporting properties that will support it as an industry and asset class. As we mentioned, intellectual property attorneys in this new age will become even more valuable. There are currently six HBCU law schools who could create a focus on both IP and on digital IP in particular and those schools would be rewarded handsomely by being at the forefront of the curve. Simply put, there is just too much opportunity and money that has yet to even scratch the surface of value for HBCUs to not get involved in NFTs.

The acute importance of closing the endowment gap must be at the forefront of HBCU alumni conversations if our institutions are to be sustained into the next Millenia. It must be if we are to take serious the closing of the individual and institutional wealth gaps for African America. More importantly if HBCUs are to move beyond simply surviving and into empowered institutions that are truly able to serve the social, economic, and political interest of African America and the Diaspora, then having the institutional wealth and endowments necessary to do so is paramount. Climbing this mountain will be no easy task, but we can simply look at the wealth that has been created by our labor and our creativity as an enduring possibility of possibility. This time we must be the ownership of that creativity and protect its ownership at all costs.

HBCU Money’s 2020 Top 10 HBCU Endowments

For the first time since we began reporting the Top Ten HBCU endowments, an HBCU endowment that we knew should be present but was not reporting is now present – Morehouse College. Hopefully next year we will see Tuskegee University join the fray. This provides a far more accurate picture of the HBCU endowment picture, at least at the top. While many will wonder why the endowments do not appear larger after massive donations that happen in 2020, it should be understood that many donations will not be reflective in the institutions endowment figures until fiscal year 2021 is reported so expect to see massive jumps for many HBCUs in the next calendar year.

However, examining the HBCU endowment world prior Mackenzie Scott’s 2020 philanthropy shows Howard University powering ahead toward becoming the first HBCU endowment to $1 billion. Their lead over number two Spelman extended from $302 million in 2019 to $355 million in 2020. Unfortunately, only four of the ten HBCU endowments saw increases in their endowment market value, while amongst the PWI’s Top Ten endowments all ten saw increases in their market value.* The Top Ten PWI endowments for 2020 combined for $199.8 billion versus $2 billion for the Top Ten HBCU endowments showing an institutional wealth gap of almost $100 to $1.

There is going to be a continued mixed bag of endowment reality among HBCUs. The Have and Have Nots among HBCU endowments has exacerbated and despite the attention during 2020 most smaller HBCUs have yet to secure donations that would secure their future. Even many of those who did are still sitting in a precarious perch. The NACUBO average endowment is over $907 million, an amount that is almost five times the average HBCU endowment and an average that not even Howard has reached yet. This means that while the “lottery” donations from non-HBCU sources is great, it absolutely does not remove the charge from HBCU alumni of being vigilant givers to their institutions. If HBCUs could simply get more of their alumni giving small amounts on a consistent basis that would do wonders for improving endowments. It goes without saying the other reality is that all HBCUs need to increase their student populations so that they are graduating more alumni and therefore more potential donors.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • HBCU Endowment Total – $2.0 billion
  • Number of PWIs Above $2 billion – 55
  • Number of PWIs Above $1 billion – 114
  • HBCU Median – $95.6 million (-2.62%)
  • NACUBO Median – $165.7 million (0.58%)
  • HBCU Average – $187.7 million (0.13%)
  • NACUBO Average – $903.1 million (1.56%)

All values are in millions ($000)

1. Howard University – $712,410 (2.83%)

2. Spelman College – $377,942 (-3.21%)

3.  Hampton University – $280,598 (-0.69%)

4.  Morehouse College – $157,081 (0.64%)

5.  Meharry Medical College – $156,719 (-1.53%)

6. Florida A&M University – $95,635 (-2.63%)

7. North Carolina A&T State University  – $73,809 (7.82%)

8.  University of the Virgin Islands – $66,894 (-6.68%)

9. Tennessee State University – $63,020 (3.12%)

10. Virginia State University – $56,149 (-2.15%)

OTHERS REPORTING:

*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 FY19 to FY20 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.

SOURCE: NACUBO

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.

12 Things Your HBCU Alumni Association/Chapter Needs To Do To Be Financially Successful

“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.” – Alan Lakein

Far too many HBCU Alumni Associations and Chapters have been asleep at the wheel for far too long financially. They have conducted themselves like a child who says they want to start a lemonade stand, but refuses to take the time to make a plan of acquiring lemons, sugar, water, and certainly not building a lemonade stand. There is more time spent playing with their friends and then seemingly complaining that their friends do not support their lemonade stand – that does not exist. It is enough to drive one mad. We have laid out twelve steps that HBCU alumni associations and chapters need to do to make themselves financially integral and sustainable for the future to meet the financial needs of both African America and the HBCUs they serve.

  1. Move banking accounts to African American owned banks and/or credit unions. It is utterly baffling that HBCUs and HBCU Alumni Associations/Chapters at this point still have not done this very elementary point of economic development given the acute presence of the #BankBlack movement over the past few years. Public HBCUs have more red tape by being state institutions and there are significant political dynamics at play there, but private HBCUs and HBCU alumni associations/chapters at private or public HBCUs at this point simply have no excuse.
  2. Invest in technology, especially financial technology. If HBCU Alumni Associations/Chapters want younger alumni involvement as they claim then they have to come into the 21st century – do you realize we are two decades into the 21st century and some HBCU foundations, alumni associations/chapters do not have a functioning web presence. This is where typically you would insert a mind blown emoji or gif. It is unfathomable and inexcusable at this point. HBCU Alumni Associations/Chapters need a web and social media presence independent of the mother institution for a myriad of reasons that should be readily apparent without great explanation. Alumni associations/chapters can work out an agreement with their schools to create work study that involves social media work and web development for those students who are interested and have the necessary skillset. Otherwise, spend the money and pay for a real web designer and social media manager – it is worth it. Financial technology – accepting payment by Venmo, CashApp, etc. should not be groundbreaking it should be standard. There are a plethora of financial technology available for nonprofit organizations. This should be the job of the treasurer at both the national and chapter levels to find technology that can improve the financial efficiency.
  3. Collect information on your members. Know your association/chapters strengths and weaknesses. If you plan on doing education outreach with your alumni association/chapter, it may help knowing who in the organization that has a background and connections in education. Need to put on an event? It may help to know the alumnus who worked in event planning or knows someone who does. Other information should be household income, level of education, home ownership, etc. The more information the better (we will explain the value of this in another point). But not knowing what assets you have is a dearth of proper planning and strategy.
  4. Write a business plan. If you do not know where you are going, any road will get you there. This opaque behavior is stressfully true with HBCU Alumni Associations/Chapters. We have an alumni association/chapter, now what? Having a written plan of what you want to accomplish, why, and how is paramount to any organization. HBCU Alumni Associations/Chapters are no different. The business plan should be reviewed and updated every 3-4 years to ensure that goals are on track . A review committee made up of internal and external members would be advised.
  5. Create a revenue and investment committee. These can be one committee or two committees, but it needs to exist. Beyond dues, how does the association/chapter plan to make money? Thinking of ways that revenue can be generated and those ideas presented to the association and chapter would be vital. Seriously, because have we not killed the annual golf tournament? Someone on this committee needs to have an investment background and if there is no one in the chapter with it, then invite a local financial adviser to sit on the committee in a volunteer role to help.
  6. Raise dues. There was just a collective gasp from everyone just now. However, creativity. Right now, most associations/chapters charge annual dues of $25-35 annually. Going to a monthly model of $5-10 can skyrocket annual dues revenue to $60-120 which is an increase of over 100 percent in dues revenue and it is an amount that few will miss. Implementing financial technology can allow this to be automated around alumni pay periods.
  7. Produce a newsletter and sale local advertising. Remember the roster of your membership and the data we talked about collecting. This is extremely valuable in putting together a media kit that you can use to sell local advertising in. Most alumni associations/chapters send out newsletters anyway. The ability to monetize that in the most optimal way requires being able to tell potential advertisers who they are reaching. Imagine being able to simply sell ten advertisements a year with twelve month commitments that each pay $50 per month. This is $6,000 in new annual revenue for the chapter from local businesses and relationship building.
  8. Hire a financial adviser. It can be the aforementioned one or a different one, but this also needs to be done. Associations/Chapters should be generating far more income than they do with the collective financial ability at their disposal. As an entity, your association/chapter can have a brokerage account that invest in stocks and bonds – not just sitting in a checking and savings account losing purchasing power. Ensure that the financial adviser is credible. There are even African American brokerage firms that can provide accounts and advising all under one roof. Again, we are not going to fundraise our way to institutional wealth. Our organizations’ money needs to be making money while it “sleeps” because money never sleeps.
  9. Purchase real estate. Now that you have a financial adviser, your chapter should also retain a real estate adviser to help build a rental property portfolio. Remember, we just created $6,000 in new annual revenue via the newsletter. You also raised dues from $25 to $60 and with the $35 surplus on a chapter of just twenty alumni that provides and extra $700 annually. In line with your investment income from your brokerage is also rental income. The association/chapter can focus on purchasing everything from single-family to commercial properties. If chapters purchased near their HBCU, it could help stem off any potential gentrification as many HBCUs are seeing, but in little position to do anything about. They could also purchase real estate locally where their chapter is located. This would provide the association/chapter another stream of revenue and diversified real estate holdings.
  10. Invest in African American small businesses. This could be done in conjunction with African American owned banks/credit unions. If a small business could not qualify for a SBA loan, then the chapter could work out a deal with the bank that would allow them to review the investment on the bank’s recommendation. The chapter would then either invest in the business with equity or provide a loan and act as a shadow lender. We know this is something desperately needed for many African American small businesses who are trying to grow and for some reason or another lack access to traditional financial products. Imagine a local African American kid comes to the bank with the next great social media company, but he needs $38,000 to get it going and does not qualify, but the bank says they have a program that may work to help him. The chapter invest the $38,000 for a 50 percent stake and acts as a passive investor while the kid builds his dream. Why $38,000? This is the amount Mark Zuckerberg and classmate Eduardo Saverin invested to get Facebook off the ground in 2004. A company now worth $840 billion and a 50 percent stake would be worth $420 billion – from a $38,000 investment. Not to mention the potential to secure jobs and internships for your HBCU’s students and alumni as the company grew.
  11. Endow internships at local organizations. HBCU alumni constantly complain about our students not having access to opportunity. Well, now with your new found financial wealth you can buy them access just like everyone else does for their community. The Museum of Natural Science in New York, Miami, Houston, etc. sure do appreciate that $100,000 donation your association/chapter gave them to hire a paid summer internship. The condition? That intern needs to come from your HBCU. Now, a student from your HBCU gets a paid summer internship, work experience in a field of their interest, and most importantly builds their professional network.
  12. Be transparent. Associations and chapters need to ensure that members feel like they know and understand what is going on. Part of this is improving the membership’s financial aptitude through financial literacy so that they understand the decisions being made on some level. Have a quarterly review of the financial portfolio and an annual audit. Trust is vital and for African American organizations that trust is built through transparency.

HBCU Alumni Associations & Chapters should be the symbol of group economics for African America. Instead, the actions have been more hat in hand with the rest of African American organizations who could, but do not leverage their capability. The infrastructure is there for HBCU Alumni Associations & Chapters to be financial forces if the proper financial strategy and plan is implemented. It is time to stop playing and start planning, there is a lemonade stand to build.

HBCU Money’s 2019 Top 10 HBCU Endowments

The adjective that best describes 2019 HBCU endowments – uninspiring. HBCU flagship endowments barely moved over the past calendar year. Of all reporting endowments, only The University of the Virgin Islands saw double digit gains in their endowment market value. Since breaking into the top 10 HBCU endowments in 2014, UVI has been on a meteoric rise almost doubling their endowment over the past six years and has become something of a canary in a coal mine.

There is plenty of blame to go around, but the jest of the matter is HBCUs and HBCU alumni associations continue to not do a good enough job of hammering financial and philanthropic literacy among their constituents. This leads to either a lack of investing or no investing at all among HBCU alumni and HBCU alumni associations and therefore a paltry engagement both from an alumni giving rate and alumni giving amounts. Simply put, there are still far too many HBCU alumni and students who do not know what an endowment is or its purpose and it is reflected in the endowments of our institutions.

If there is any solace to be taken from this year’s numbers, it is that HBCU endowments are largely in line with the overall sentiment of America’s college and university endowments. Unfortunately, the median HBCU endowment is less than 44 percent of the overall NACUBO median reporting endowment and HBCU endowments are just barely 18 percent of the NACUBO average reporting endowment.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • HBCU Endowment Total – $2.1 billion
  • Number of PWIs Above $2 billion – 54
  • Number of PWIs Above $1 billion – 108
  • HBCU Median – $64.8 million (4.07%)
  • NACUBO Median – $149 million (5.02%)
  • HBCU Average – $148 million (4.25%)
  • NACUBO Average – $816.4 million (4.24%)

All values are in millions ($000)

1. Howard University – $692,832 (0.62%)

2. Spelman College – $390,462 (0.27%)

3.  Hampton University – $282,543 (-0.98%)

4.  Meharry Medical College – $159,146 (-0.48%)

5.  Florida A&M University – $98,213 (1.93%)

6.  University of the Virgin Islands – $71,684 (15.83%)

7. North Carolina A&T State University  – $68,459 (7.58%)

8.  Tennessee State University – $61,110 (4.11%)

9. Virginia State University – $57,383 (5.33%)

10.  Winston-Salem State University – $49,755 (7.66%)

OTHERS REPORTING:

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.

Source: NACUBO